By Emmanuel Olonirua
Technical Advisor, Policy and Advocacy, Alive & Thrive, Mrs Toyin Adewale-Gabriel, says if 90 per cent of mothers can practice exclusively breastfeeding, not less than 13 per cent of infant mortality can be prevented.
Adewale-Gabriel said this at the forum on “Media Coverage of the 2019 General Elections” organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Wednesday in Abuja.
She said that `’52 per cent of all the diseases affecting children in Nigeria were caused by malnutrition.
“ So, if we can address that through appropriate infant and child feeding habit, we will be able to increase the number of children’s safety in Nigeria.
“If we are to do exclusive breastfeeding alone, that alone has the potential to increase the lives of children saved in Nigeria by least 13 per cent.
“Children who are exclusively breast fed have six times greater chance of survival in early months of life than children who are not exclusively breastfed.
“If we can get 90 per cent of mothers in Nigeria to practice exclusive breastfeeding, an estimated 13 per cent of the death of children in Nigeria can be prevented.’’
Adewale-Gabriel said that apart from the fact that children who were breastfed exclusively were smarter than others who did not have it, there were also some economic benefits of breastfeeding.
“For every one dollar that you spend on breastfeeding, the gains are at least 19 dollars, as was calculated in a study called the Economic Cost of Breastfeeding, using World Bank formulae.”
She urged the media to sensitise Nigerians on the need for women to practice adequate breastfeeding of their babies and also patronise hospital facilities during childbirth.
“As media practitioners, it is important to ensure that in our front pages, we publish the information on the benefits of breastfeeding, as well as infant and young child feeding,’’ Adewale-Gabriel said.