WBW: Panellists Emphasize the Need for Creches at Kaduna MDAs
By: Femi Mustapha
As the celebration of the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week continues, a group of panellists has emphasized the need for the provision of creches in all the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in Kaduna to encourage lactating mothers to breastfeed their children during working hours.
They asserted this on Monday in Kaduna during a dialogue agenda meeting organized by the Departments of Aid Coordination, Kaduna Planning, and Budget Commission with support from UNICEF held in Kaduna on August 7th, 2023.
One of the Panellists, Mrs. Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, said that breast milk contains everything the baby needs for the first 6 months of life, in all the right proportions.
She added that breast milk composition even changes according to the baby’s changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
They said because of that, Kaduna MDAs should ensure the provision of creches for babies to enjoy uninterrupted six months of breastfeeding while at the workplace.
She stressed that UNICEF was working towards ensuring the provision of creches to all the MDAs becomes a reality.
Similarly, another panellist, the Project Manager of Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN), Dr. Zainab Muhammad-Idiris Kwaru, said that breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies, noting that it has the right amount of nutrients and is easily digested and readily available at birth.
Zainab, who is a medical practitioner, added that breastfeeding also reduces the disease burden for mothers.
She said ANRiN, apart from championing exclusive breastfeeding campaigns in the state, also provided deworming tablets and suspension to children, Vitamin A supplementation, Micronutrient powder, Iron/folic acid, and anti-malaria tablets for pregnant women, and ORS/zinc tablets to prevent diarrhea.
She, however, said that to sustain the gains made in the breastfeeding campaigns, creches must be established in MDAs to enable lactating mothers to breastfeed their children during working hours.
Also, Mrs. Mary Ocholi, a teacher at the Essense International School, said her school has embraced the six months maternity leave and is working towards establishing creches for breastfeeding teachers.
Giving credence to these, some lactating mothers who were also panellists at the event described the benefits of having creches at workplaces to enable breastfeeding of infant babies during working hours.
Mrs. Esther Anthony, a staff member at one of the MDAs in Kaduna, said she enjoyed the six months of paid maternity leave.
She added that her organization also has a creche for lactating mothers to deliver the best services while breastfeeding their infant babies during working hours.
In her presentation, the State Nutrition Officer, Ramatu Musa, said the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated globally, and Nigeria joins over 170 countries in the celebration.
According to her, this is one of the greatest outreach vehicles for the promotion of optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, saying the theme for the WBW 2023 is “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work.”
Mrs. Musa observed that breastfeeding gives babies the body-building components that are particularly suited to their health and development.
Milk from animal and plant sources does not contain the body-building components particularly suited to the human body.
“WHO recommends mothers worldwide exclusively breastfeed infants for the child’s first six months to achieve optimal growth, development, and health.
“Thereafter, they should be given nutritious complementary foods and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond,” she said.