Etsu Chikun Pledges Commitment to Promoting Breastfeeding
…..Women Emotionally Stable to Breastfeed when Supported by Men – UNICEF

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

The Traditional Ruler of Chikun Chiefdom in Kaduna State, has pledged to henceforth take up the responsibility of disseminating key messages of breastfeeding and other household messages of healthy living in his Chiefdom.

The Etsu Chikun II, Ishaku Yari, made the commitment on Thursday, at his Palace during an Advocacy, Community Practice and Community Dialogue meeting with Traditional and Religious Leaders in Chikun Local Government Area (LGA) in Commemoration of World Breastfeeding week 2022, organized by National Orientation Agency (NOA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The Monarch, who thanked NOA and UNICEF for bringing the advocacy to his palace, said he will now become an active partner in mobilizing his councils members in joining the campaign for breastfeeding.

“I will henceforth personally join the campaign to disseminate key messages of this exclusive breastfeeding and other key healthy household messages that you delivered to us today. We will ensure there are preached in the community meetings, wards development council meeting, churches and mosques.

“And i will occasionally come out by by myself with the council chiefs to do some supervision, to also have feedback mechanisms with the health facilities within the local government to ensure that during antenatal services that these are some of the things they preached”. The Etsu said.

He also pledged that most issues raised will now form part of their action plan to continue to disseminate the messages and ensure that women and households comply, adding “we have a lot to do because we can’t leave them.”

The Monarch, also said he is now better equipped with things that were not too clear to him before, adding that he is just getting to know that exclusive breastfeeding can also serve as some child spacing method. He frowned at early marriages after he leant it is part of the practice that leads to malnutrition.

Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, Mrs. Chinwe Ezeife, noted that the advocacy meeting at the Etsu’s palace was strategic in reaching community members where they live and work and enhance their capacities, and remind them of their roles.

Ezeife, explained that “This 2022 world breastfeeding week has the theme: “step up for breastfeeding, educate and support” and that is why the activities are planned to cover so many stakeholders usually regarded as the warm chain actors and we can not talk about warm chain actors and exclude the traditional and religious leaders and communities members themselves.

“The year’s theme focuses on strengthening capacity and you will find out that some roles are out there for families, for communities, religious and traditional leaders to play for protection, promotions and supporting breastfeeding.

“But recent study is showing ignorance on part of some of the warm chain actors on their own roles, and so this year world breastfeeding week is targeting to create awareness as well as strengthening capacity on resources that are bound especially with this community leaders and that is why his royal highness Mr ishaku Yari, is prioritized.

“So that we can reach community members where they live and work and enhance their capacities, and remind them of their roles towards the 3Es that we are promoting; Early initiations of breastfeeding within one hour of child birth, Exclusive breastfeeding from that first one hour 0 hour up to 6 months of baby’s life will just be given breast milk. No water, no fluid, no other food and then we Extend that breastfeeding from that six month to 24month and beyond while also using appropriate complimentary food.”

She added, “the objective for really coming here today is to meet people in their natural habitat where they live and work so that we will advocate and also discuss with them the key issues, key barriers and we also proffer some solutions using their locally appropriate technology. Breastfeeding doesn’t need any further technology other than that awareness to encourage the mothers, support the mothers to protect breastfeeding at all cost and reassuring the mother that they can do it.

“This is also household food security for the baby ensuring that he or she is breastfed. We also called on men involvement through this dialogue for them to understand that they have key roles to play yes they may not have the breast to breastfeed but they have so much to do to encourage that woman because if that woman knows that at the back of the house there are food other household members can eat, she doesn’t need to fetch water or fetch firewood herself and do some other strenuous home chores that people are surrounding her to support her.

“It will make her morale high, she will be emotionally stable, she will be comfortable and she will breastfeed her baby. So that is why we are here today and the interaction is super and his royal highness is equipped and his knowledge and capacity enhanced to push it as part of the agenda he’s pushing inline with other developments agenda.”

Earliar, the NOA Director in the state, Alhaji Zubair Galadima-Soba, appealed to the royal father to prioritise issues surrounding child nutrition in his domain and lead the campaign against malnutrition.

Galadima-Soba, said community leaders have important roles to play in educating their subjects on the importance of breastfeeding and other household healthy living campaigns as they are closer to them.

On her part, Jummai Hamza, Nutrition Focal Person in Chikun LGA, said, health workers had been trained on how to counsel mothers on the right food to give to their children.

She added that community infants and young children’s nutrition officers are been charged with the responsibility of sensitising community members on the right way of breastfeeding and preparing nutritious meal for their children.

A member of the community and mother of three, Mrs Grace Samson, who shared her experience, disclosed that her three children her very healthy because she exclusively breastfed them and that made them immune from all infant and childhood illnesses.

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