The Civil Society- Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) congratulates the Federal Government, the Ministry of Health, other Nutrition line Ministries, Departments and Agencies and nutrition implementing partners on the commemoration of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme “Step Up for Breastfeeding; Educate and Support” draws attention on the need to inform, educate, strengthen and empower health systems, workplaces, communities and state actors in Nigeria to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments across different levels and spheres.
The most recent National Demographic and Health Survey (2018) shows that only 29% of Nigerian Children are exclusively breastfed, with the remaining 71% lacking essential nutrients and antibodies that would protect them from childhood diseases and death as they are not being exclusively breastfed. The same report states that 37% of children under-five years are stunted, 29% are underweight while 18% are wasted. These negative indices, continue to deprive Nigerian children of the best start in life, attainment of their full potentials in adulthood and act as a brake on Nigeria’s economic development as globally, stunting is currently an indicator for measuring a country’s development.
We all have to STEP UP FOR BREASTFEEDING in order to reverse these negative indices. Governments, healthcare actors, community actors across all levels in Nigeria must advocate to normalize breastfeeding and create breastfeeding-friendly environments. We all have a role to play in the education of actors along the breastfeeding warm chain, revamping of existing health and nutrition systems/structures and implementation of evidence-based national policies/plans to create breastfeeding-friendly health facilities, supportive communities and workplaces. Let’s step up for breastfeeding!
The National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition has a strong exclusive breastfeeding component within its Maternal Nutrition and Infant and Young Child Feeding priority areas. However, in order to attain the 65% exclusive breastfeeding target, set in the plan by 2025, the goal of sustainable education and support for optimal breastfeeding will require priority attention, increased funding as well as monitoring of activities during and post implementation.
CS-SUNN lauds the President Muhammadu-Buhari led administration’s approval of the establishment of Nutrition Departments and creation of budget line for nutrition in all line ministries. We are optimistic that this move, will drive increased budgetary allocations for nutrition, timely releases of allocated funds and result-driven nutrition programming interventions in Nigeria.
CS-SUNN however calls for the following actions to support breastfeeding in Nigeria:
- development of an Operational structure and Monitoring and Evaluation framework to guide the process of the creation of nutrition departments in all line ministries.
- approval of 6 months paid maternity leave and establishment of breastfeeding-friendly environment/creches in workplaces.
- full enforcement of the International Code of Breast-milk marketing Substitutes with monitoring mechanisms in place.
- implementation of the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition at the national and state levels.
- capacity strengthening of health systems to provide counseling on infant and young child feeding practices and the resuscitation of Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative across health facilities in Nigeria.
CS-SUNN remains committed to the course for greater investments in combating malnutrition as we all work together to attain a country where every citizen has food and is nutrition secured.