A baby friendly competition among communities is underway in Kaduna State to encourage mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding.
Communication for Development Specialist, UNICEF, Eki George, made this known on Thursday at the ongoing five-day workshop holding in Kachia, Kaduna State.
The workshop was organised by National Orientation Agency, NOA, in collaboration with UNICEF, to domesticate the National Social and Behavioural Change Communication, SBCC, Strategy, for Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF, 2016 to 2020.
“The baby friendly competition is a new innovation along with high community dialogue and community communication action plan designed to raise awareness around IYCF issues.
“The competition will serve as a platform to motivate communities to fully embrace IYCF practices to ensure healthy living among infant and children under five years,” he said.
The official said communities were expected to practice early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding to win the competition.
“To win, we will check to see if mothers put babies to breast within an hour of birth; we will see if they practice exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding using available local food.
“If they do, we will see the evidence because their children would be looking very healthy,” Mr George said.
The communication specialist believed that the competition would get everyone involved in providing adequate feeding to their children.
He said that any community that wins would receive incentives that would motivate others to key to embrace IYCF practices.
“It’s a win-win for everyone. It saves family income that would have ordinarily gone into buying baby formula that at the end does not really improve child health and well-being.
“The community and government would equally get healthier and productive citizens,” he added.
George explained that the effort was to address the disturbing malnutrition indices in the state, which put 57 per cent of children under five years as stunted and 42 per cent acutely malnourished.
A Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2017) indicates that only 28.9 per cent nursing mothers in the state practice early breastfeeding within an hour of birth and only 19.7 per cent women practice exclusive breast-feeding.
The result put infant mortality rate at 103 per 1000 live births and under 5 mortality rate at 169 per 1000 live births in the state.
He said states were expected to domesticate the IYCF SBCC as a social behavioural strategy designed to address challenges in infant and young child feeding in the country.
George said that the baby friendly competition among communities was to motivate people to practice IYCF recommendations for healthy development of children.
According to him, the recommendations consist of early initiation to breast-feeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breast-feeding for six months and adequate complementary feeding.