The World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has looked into the numbers of exclusive breastfeeding rates as the world celebrates 2021 World Breastfeeding Week themed “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.
With data from the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), WHO and UNICEF find the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria quite low at 29% rate.
The organizations reported that the number is way below the 50% standard set by the World Health Assembly to be achieved in 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for 2030.
According to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the DG of WHO, the rate of excluding breastfeeding rose from 17% in 2013 to 29% in 2018.
WHO and UNICEF are making a huge commitment to ensure this year’s goal is achieved: prioritising breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies.
“While there has been progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades – with a 50 per cent increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally – the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of those gains.
“In many countries, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions in breastfeeding support services, while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
“Breastfeeding rates in Nigeria reduced with age – 83 per cent of the children are breastfed up to one year, while 28 per cent are breastfeeding till two years.”
They also encouraged countries to fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes – designed to protect mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry:
“Ensuring health care workers have the resources and information they need to effectively support mothers to breastfeed, including through global efforts such as the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, and guidelines on breastfeeding counselling.
“Ensuring employers allow women the time and space they need to breastfeed; including paid parental leave with longer maternity leave; safe places for breastfeeding in the workplace; access to affordable and good-quality childcare; and universal child benefits and adequate wages.”
By Elijah Christopher