UNICEF seeks media support to promote breastfeeding
The United Nations Children Fund’s (UNICEF) has called on the media to support ongoing efforts to promote breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) toward achieving improve child survival and development.
Chief Field Officer, UNICEF Kaduna, Mr Uptal Moitra, who made the call at a news conference in Kaduna, described the media as critical stakeholder in the campaign to promote breastfeeding.
“We can’t reach out to the over 6 million population of Kaduna State for example without the support of the media. We need you to continue to raise issues affecting children.
“We are collaborating with wide range of stakeholders to put together a variety of actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding to ensure healthy development of children.
“As such, we need the media on board to assist us to reach out to all nuke and crannies of the state and the nation at large to deepen the gains of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding, “Moitra said.
He described breastfeeding as not only the cornerstone of child’s development, but also a foundation of a country’s development.
According to him, breastfeeding enhances productivity and contributes to breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, poverty and low productivity at household, community and national levels.
“Breast milk provides 100 per cent of nutrients required at zero to six months, 50 per cent of the nutrients required at six to 12 months and one-third of the requirements between 12 and 24 months.
“After six months, mothers should introduce appropriate complementary foods made from staple foods such as cereals mixed with soya beans or groundnut and crayfish with vegetables oil fortified with vitamin A.
“Mothers can also served mashed potatoes or yam mashed with vegetables and fish with palm oil or oil fortified with vitamin A’ mashed fruits in season with each feeding starting with breastfeeding.
Similarly, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist in the state, Dr Florence Oni, also urged the media to create awareness among the population on the importance of breastfeeding and IYCF practices.
“This could be achieved through print and electronic feature articles on breastfeeding and good nutrition, dedicated columns and airtime for nutrition interventions, drama on malnutrition and radio jingles.
“The media can also help in advocating six months maternity leave and two weeks paternity leave, radio and television talk shows, and hold government officials to account on their responsibilities, “Oni said.
Also speaking, the Coordinator of Community-IYCF project, Susan Adeyemi, said the project being implemented in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State as pilot scheme was a success.
She explained that the project was initiated to evaluate the effectiveness of the CIYCF counseling package in Nigeria towards promoting optimal breastfeeding and proper complementary feeding.
According to her, most communities in the area have embraced breast-feeding and adopted proper complementary feeding.
She said that project was collaboration among UNICEF, USAID-funded Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) and the Federal Ministry of Health.