Ebonyi state government Tuesday said breastfeeding is the first immunisation for children.
A baby initiative coordinator with Ebonyi state Ministry of Health, Mrs. Ngozi Orji Nkama, stated this in a chat with journalists shortly after the state briefing on the world breastfeeding week celebration.
State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike had earlier in his office at Ochudo City, Abakaliki said the breastfeeding week was to galvanise support for the practice and for mothers to go back to that culture of breastfeeding their children up to two years.
He further stated that six months exclusive breastfeeding protects a child from diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, pneumonia, while it protects the mother from cancers of the breast, cervix and uterus. He advised breastfeeding mothers to keep general hygiene.
He said: “A child needs to be breastfed starting from 30mins to one hour after delivery to six months exclusive breastfeeding. Feeding with breast milk is natural, and has complete nutrition. Then complimentary feeding should be introduced after six months and be continued to two years. Any child that is fed that way behaves like a human being because of the mother and child bonding.
Breastfeeding is a critical part of a sustainable feeding system.
“Because of the importance of breastfeeding, the world since 1990 set aside August 1-7 of every year to celebrate breastfeeding. And in Ebonyi state, since we came on board, we always celebrate it, because it is important to us.”
Umezuruike said HIV positive mothers can initiate breastfeeding of their baby from 30 minutes to one hour of birth, and can do six months exclusive breastfeeding and continue to breastfeed up to two years, provided they judiciously take anti-retrieval drugs.
He said Ebonyi state government has come up with measures such as breastfeeding public campaign, radio and television giggles to support exclusive breastfeeding, while mothers who are civil servants are given four months maternity leave and upon resumption, they close by midday so as to go home and breastfeed their children.