Kaduna — The Programme Director, Nigeria, Alive and Thrive, Mr. Victor Ogbodo, has described the extension of maternity leave for female public servants to six months by the Kaduna State Government as an 'investment in human capital development.'
Gov. Nasir El-Rufa'i of Kaduna State had in his inaugural speech for second tenure on May 29, announced the extension of maternal leave from three to six months.
Ogbodo in a statement in Kaduna on Friday, commended the governor for the move, saying it would promote mother-child care and reduce maternal and newborn mortality rate in the state.
"Once again, the Kaduna State Government has underscored its commitment to saving the lives of babies in the state.
"This is a huge long-term investment in human capital development that will serve the state well, now and in the future.
"Alive and Thrive commends Gov. El-Rufai for taking this important step and improving the enabling environment for women in the state public service.
"This will enable them to give their babies the best start in life with exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
"This policy, the second of its kind in the country after Lagos state will help to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding, reduce child mortality and morbidity rate," he added.
He explained that the move follows advocacy efforts, pushing for six months maternity leave in the state, led by Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP).
Ogbodo said that the advocacy was supported by Alive & Thrive in collaboration with Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigerian, UNICEF and other nutrition partners in the state.
He thanked the wife of the governor, Hajiya Ummi El-Rufai, Co-Chair, KADENAP for the leadership and strong commitment in promoting appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in the state.
According to him, appropriate IYCF practices will ensure that infants and children under five years in the state start strong in life.
"We hope that this development will provide the needed inspiration for more states across Nigeria to formulate similar policies to improve breastfeeding practices."
Alive and Thrive, managed by FHI 360 was established in 2008 to save lives, prevent illnesses, and ensure healthy growth and development through optimal maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, and complementary feeding practices.
It is being funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Irish Aid, the Tanoto Foundation, and UNICEF.