Only 29 percent of children exclusively breastfed in Nigeria – Health minister laments

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, has said the 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey revealed that only 29 percent of children between zero to six months were exclusively breastfed in Nigeria.

The minister who noted this in Abuja at the ongoing 2021 World breastfeeding week said 97 percent of children are breastfed at one point or the other.

The theme this year’s breastfeeding week is Protect Breastfeeding: A shared responsibility with slogan: Join hands, support exclusive breastfeeding.

He said continued breastfeeding with consumption of adequate diverse and nutrient rich complimentary foods till two years of age and beyond prevents stunting.

The minister who was represented by Director, Family Health Department in the ministry, Dr Salma Anas-Kolo, further said breastfeeding also provides enormous benefits to mothers such as prevention of postpartum bleeding, reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers and child spacing.

In a goodwill message, the Advocacy, Campaign and Policy manager of Save the Children International, Ifeachukwu Ekene Innocent, said breastfeeding is an economic benefit to households that everybody should properly welcome.

He said there are policies and programs in advocating exclusive breastfeeding which the SCi is encouraging the government to put in place.

He lauded the government of Kaduna, Ekiti, Lagos and Osun state for implementing the six months exclusive breastfeeding for lactating mothers and encouraged other state governments to do same.

“We are encouraging that this message go round and efforts at various level especially in the community level continues to be promoted by everybody.

“We also encourage Men should support their wives on exclusive breastfeeding,” he said.

The WHO representative Dr Walter Kazadi said that globally, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months of age is 40 percent.

Kazadi, represented by the Technical Officer, Dr Joy Ufere said that in

Africa, nearly 70 percent of countries have high rates of continued breastfeeding at one year, compared to 29 percent in Nigeria.