Enugu moves to boost exclusive breast feeding

By The Citizen

The Enugu State Government is collaborating with the United Nations Children's Fund to ensure that every newborn baby in the state is exclusively breast-fed for at least four months, and possibly six months.

The Director, Public Health Services, Dr. Okechukwu Ossai, who stated this while marking the 2014 World Breast Feeding Week, said exclusive breast feeding was vital to the well being of newborns.

Ossai explained that UNICEF had been supportive of the state government's bid to ensure exclusive breast feeding of infants.

He added that exclusive breast feeding would prevent early childhood diseases, adding that breast milk could not be compared with any other food for infants because it contained all the essential nutrients in the appropriate proportion.

'Breast milk contains immunity because the mother transfers immunity to the child which lasts for at least six months.

'It protects the child within that early childhood. Moreover, it contains all the essential elements that every child needs. Take for instance, all the minerals, all the vitamins, including vitamin A, which is essential for the child and helps to boost immunity,' he said.

He added,  'Another thing is that it is very cheap, it is affordable and available because you don't need to spend money to get it.

'So, it has a lot of advantages over formula or artificial milk that women are going for and that is why we are advocating that every woman should use breast milk instead of formula milk.'

Ossai stressed that to complement the exclusive breast feeding scheme, the the state government had introduced free maternal services for nursing mothers and infants.

He commended the Lagos State Government for granting a six-month maternity leave for nursing mothers, noting that the policy would encourage them to practise exclusive breast feeding.

Ossai hinted that Enugu State Government could introduce a similar policy. NAN