At the World Breastfeeding Week Ministerial Flag-off & High-Level Policy Dialogue on Progress on Promoting Breastfeeding for Sustainable Development in Nigeria, Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group of the World Health Organization Africa Regional Office, H.E. Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, delivered a rallying call for Nigeria to reach its breastfeeding targets of 50% by 2025 – and, in doing so, save millions of lives.
World Breastfeeding Week commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other organizations, to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. The event, held in Abuja yesterday, was officially flagged off by Prof. Isaac Adewole, Nigeria's Minister of Health, and had in attendance Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, as well as representatives of the WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a broad section of civil society and health professionals.
H.E. Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki, who was appointed to advise the WHO in Africa earlier this year, used her Goodwill Message to call for action on breastfeeding in Nigeria. She commented:
"The WHO recommends the commencement of exclusive breastfeeding within one hour after birth, and until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond. The campaign focus for the WHO during this year's World Breastfeeding Week is the importance of helping mothers breastfeed their babies with the first hour of life. That crucial first hour is one which all mothers and healthcare professionals must hold to be of the utmost importance. The so-called 'first vaccine' of a baby is the goal: the first skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulates the production of breastmilk, including colostrum, which provides a rich dose of nutrients and antibodies."
For Nigeria to move forward, we must heed the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, but also adopt a multi-sectoral, partnerships-based approach."
"The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is a proud partner of Alive and Thrive, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by FHI360. Alive & Thrive saves lives, prevents illness and ensures healthy growth and development through improved breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, through a four-pronged approach: policy and advocacy; interpersonal communication and community mobilization; mass communication; and strategic use of data."