By Victoria Onehi
Only 34 percent of children aged 0 to 6 months are exclusively breastfed in Nigeria as recommended by UNICEF.
The UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative Cristian Munduate, disclosed this in a statement during the World Breastfeeding Week.
The statement reads in part
“While I acknowledge significant strides made in the past two decades in Nigeria to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, it remains evident that more needs to be done. Presently, only 7 out of 36 states provide six months fully paid maternity leave and only 34 percent of children aged 0 to 6 months are exclusively breastfed as recommended by UNICEF. Nigeria is still far from reaching the World Health Assembly 70 percent target by 2030.”
“Presently , women make up 20 million out of the 46 million workforce in Nigeria; 95 per cent are within the informal sector, while the formal sector only employs 5 per cent. Shockingly, only 9 per cent of organizations have a workplace breastfeeding policy, with only 1.5 per cent in the public sector. Women in the informal sector have nearly no support for breastfeeding.”
” To facilitate progress, it is essential for governments and businesses to play their part by providing the necessary support to mothers and caregivers. It is important to have policies that support breastfeeding, such as paid maternity leave for six months , as well as paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options, regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusively breastfeeding for six months, followed by age-appropriate complementary feeding while breastfeeding continues to two years and beyond.*
The UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative said investing in breastfeeding support policies and programmes in all settings, especially during crises and in food-insecure regions, is crucial to ensure the well-being of children and the progress of our society.
She urged stakeholders to make breastfeeding at work, work! “Let us collectively work towards a future where breastfeeding is supported and embraced by all, resulting in healthier generations and a thriving Nigerian workforce.”She noted.