Not Adopting Exclusive Breastfeeding Major Cause Of Malnutrition In Under Five Babies – Experts
Written by Tonia Uchola on May 19, 2021
Stakeholders at a one-day engagement workshop harped on the need for mothers to adopt exclusive breastfeeding, saying that it would reduce the high rate of malnutrition usually seen among children under the age of five.
There is an ongoing rise in the prevalence of malnutrition across the country, according to the NDHS 2018 report, which rates Gombe as the second state with the highest burden of malnutrition in Nigeria.
The report notes that the stunting rate of children under five is at 44.6 percent, underweight rate is 26.9 percent.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Leveraging partnership for sustainable Nutrition Programming’ at a consultative consultation meeting organised by the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria on Tuesday, lecturer at the Federal University of Kashere, Gombe, Ruwaydah Abubakar, said that breastfeeding is one of the essentials that a baby needs for growth and survival.
She said, “When you breastfeed your child, he or she gets the essential nutrients and elements required for that stage. That is why we are encouraging exclusive breastfeeding from one month to six months.
“There are still parents who are still affected by the dissenting voices on the need for the child to take water. However, the breast milk has large quantity of water in it. So, there is no need for water. When the child clocks six months, he can be introduced to grains, millet, and those things essential for that stage.”
Abubakar hinted that mothers who regularly attend antenatal and postnatal sessions, would not have cases where their children are malnourished.
“A child that has been essentially breastfed will not suffer from malnutrition. However, from statistics a lot of Gombe women are not engaging in exclusive breastfeeding. But for the awareness from antenatal services, the knowledge on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding has been helping to sensitise mothers.
“Vitamin A given to the child also helps to supplement what he needs and also folic acid given during immunisation in the hospital helps to a great extent to supplement other nutrients that a child didn’t get,” Abubakar added.
Also, Project Officer CS-SUNN, Ambrose Evhoesor, called for the collaboration of both traditional and religious leaders in the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding.
Evhoesor said, “Nutrition is supposed to be something that everybody should be talking about and by the time everyone talks about it, we will solve the problem.
“A child that is well breastfed has a good cognitive ability, unlike the one not properly breastfed. So, we need to encourage our families, communities and leaders.”
On her part, Chairperson of Gombe State CS-SUNN, Comfort Mukollo, commended Gombe State Government for the release of N25m as counterpart funding for the provision of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), in the state.
She said, “We want to call on government to release the balance of N50m meant for the procurement of RUTF to tackle malnutrition.
“Government at all levels should place high priority on food production to reduce the rate of malnutrition in the state.
“Government should revive the school feeding programme across the 11 LGA’s of the state, to enable students to comprehend and reduce the rate of malnutrition.”