UNICEF has commended the Kaduna State government for its efforts at achieving optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF, practices.
Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna State, Chinwe Ezeife, gave the commendation while speaking with newsmen.
Mrs Ezeife said the commendation was timely as the world commemorates the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week, WBW, which was titled “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’’.
She explained that IYCF included early initiation of breastfeeding for new born babies, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and optimal nutrient-dense complementary feeding after six months.
According to her, the Kaduna State government, supported by UNICEF and other development partners, had established the IYCF programme in 20 of its 23 local government areas and that plans were on to cover the remaining three.
The nutrition specialist also commended the state government for implementing a six-month paid maternity leave to allow lactating working mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies.
Mrs Ezeife added that plans were also on the way for paternity leave to enable husbands to support their wives to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
She said: “This will give infants a good start in life for healthy growth and development.
“Also, a crèche has been established at the Planning and Budget Commission, to encourage Ministries, Department and Agencies to provide a befitting environment for working mothers to breastfeed their babies.
“This is quite commendable and in line with this year’s WBW’s theme, which focuses on mobilising relevant stakeholders to support women to practice exclusive breastfeeding,’’ she added.
The nutrition specialist explained that early initiation of breastfeeding provided children with colostrum, the first form of milk produced by a woman immediately after she has been delivered of a baby.
The first milk, she said, is often described as “first immunisation’’, because it protects infants from certain diseases and allows them to grow strong and healthy.
Mrs Ezeife added that exclusive breastfeeding was critical to a child’s cognitive development.
“Exclusive breastfeeding not only makes children very intelligent and less prone to diseases, it also saves parents huge costs on baby formulae.
“All a mother requires to practice exclusive breastfeeding is the support from all stakeholders and food security to feed very well to produce the needed milk to breastfeed her baby.
“This was uniquely done by a mother, Hajiya Amina Abubakar, who was supported by family members, community, health workers and relevant stakeholders to exclusively breastfeed her triplets,’’ she said.
Mrs Ezeife reiterated UNICEF’s commitment to supporting optimal IYCF practices all over Kaduna State in a sustainable manner.