By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos State Government says it is moving into the era of preventive medicine to ensure that citizens, especially the next generation of children, are healthy and equipped to function optimally.
The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said this at a news conference, in commemoration of the World Breastfeeding Week, in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in over 120 countries between Aug. 1 and Aug. 7 of every year.
NAN also reports that the theme for this year’s celebration is: “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”
According to Abayomi, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways of ensuring child health and survival.
He said that the state was passionate about maternal and child welfare, thus necessitating the establishment of four new maternal and child care centres in four local government areas.
The commissioner said that promoting breastfeeding was to reduce the state’s indices in malnutrition and stunting within communities.
“For the first two years of life, the breast is the best.
“We are here to create awareness and ensure that mothers understand the importance of early breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and continuous breastfeeding for two years.
“We want mothers to understand the need for eating balanced diets so that the baby can get nutrients from breast milk,” he said.
According to him, any child, who is well-nurtured, will be balanced neurologically and psychologically and thus equipped to function effectively and contribute to national development when he/she grows up.
“It is one of our priorities and we ensure that we provide adequate information to pregnant women through our primary health centres and general hospitals,” he said.
The commissioner further said that early initiation of babies to breastfeeding was an indication of the healthy state of the mother and baby, thus putting the state’s indices for early initiation to breastfeeding at 60 per cent.
He noted that the state’s indices for exclusive breastfeeding was 52 per cent and that about half of the mothers in the state practised exclusive breastfeeding.
Abayomi said that mothers, who were able to provide exclusive breastfeeding, had babies with strong immune system.
He said that there was no contraindication that prevented a mother infected with COVID-19 from breastfeeding her baby as long as she was not severely sick.
The commissioner added that the benefits of breastfeeding to a COVID-19 infected mother outweighed the risk of not breastfeeding.
He advised men to support their wives by encouraging them throughout the process, adding that pregnancy and motherhood were emotional and traumatic for women.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Segun Ogboye, noted that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) used to be a threat to breastfeeding.
He, however, said that currently, women living with HIV were being encouraged to breastfeed their babies as long as they were using antiretroviral medications. (NAN) (nannews.ng)