A group, Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), on Monday urged the three tiers of government to extend maternity leave to six months to enable mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children.
Okonkwo Sunday, the Programme Manager, Partnership for Child and Family Health and CS-SUNN, made the observation at the commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week in Abuja tagged: “Breastfeeding- A key to sustainable development”.
Sunday said that scaling up of breastfeeding practices to almost universal level was estimated to prevent 823,000 annual deaths of children below the age of two years in the country.
According to him, without the extension of maternity leave to six months and non-availability of crèche in working places, the possibility of mothers imbibing such practices is not achievable.
He called on the legislative arm of government to ensure inclusiveness in funding for maternal, child and adolescent nutrition interventions, among others.
The official said that 37 per cent of Nigerians under-five were stunted, 29 per cent underweight, and 18 per cent wasted, according to a report by the 2013National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).
However, Sunday attributed the development to lack of breastfeeding and funds, among other factors.
He identified full implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) 2014-2019, as providing a comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach to tackling the problem of malnutrition.
Sunday recommended other ways to scale up the nation’s nutrition status to include full and timely release of funds allocated for nutrition in this year’s budget at the national and focal states (Niger, Kaduna and Nasarawa).
“The NSPAN is a key document to scale up of nutrition in Nigeria, if implemented. We appeal to the governments to provide budgetary allocation for its implementation in the 2017 budget, with emphasis on child and adolescent nutrition and timely release of funds. We urge the government to ensure adequate funding for nutrition interventions in the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Education and at the national and state Primary Healthcare Development Agencies,” Sunday said.