March 2, 2024

A group, Alive & Thrive has sought ties with governments, individuals and organizations to empower families and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments in the workplace for nursing mothers.

While speaking at a State Community Engagement Forum with Key Stakeholders to understand the workplace challenges and way forward for breastfeeding mothers in Kaduna, organized by the State Primary Healthcáre Board and Planning & Budget Commission with support from Alive & Thrive,Sarah Didi Kwasu, the Kaduna Zonal Coordinator  of Alive & Thrive, said the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was established in 1992 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

She explained that the WBW was to address issues relating to poor early initiation of breastfeeding,within 1 hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding of infants for a period of 6 months, and introduction of appropriate complementary feeding from 6 months and above, as well as continued breastfeeding up to 2 years or beyond.

According to the Coordinator, since 2016,  WABA  aligned the WBW campaign to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”WABA called it: the WBW-SDGs Campaign.World Breastfeeding Week 2023 (WBW2023) will focus on making a difference for working parents,” she said.

“Ever since its establishment, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is being celebrated globally from 1st to 7th of August each year.Kaduna State has joined the nation and the rest of the world to commemorate WBW every year.A&T has joined the rest of the world to commemorate the WBW. This year’s (2023) theme ‘Enable Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Parents’   focuses on breastfeeding and employment or work.”

” It aims to show the effect of paid leave, workplace support and emerging parenting breastfeeding norms, as parents themselves see them.Target audiences, including governments, policymakers, health sectors, employers, communities and parents, will all see that they have critical roles in empowering families and sustaining breastfeeding-friendly environments in the post-pandemic work life balance,” she said.

She explained that the World Breastfeeding Week will inform people about working parents’ perspectives on breastfeeding and parenting, anchor optimal paid leave and workplace support as important tools to enable breastfeeding, engage with individuals and organisations to enhance collaboration and support for breastfeeding at work and galvanise action on improving working conditions and relevant support for breastfeeding.

“Alive & Thrive is a global nutrition initiative to save lives, prevent illness, and improve the health and wellbeing of mothers, children, and adolescents by using evidence-based approaches in collaboration with governments and other partners at global, regional, national, and community levels.”

“Since 2016, A&T has worked with government, local communities, and other key stakeholders in Nigeria to improve IYCF behaviors, services, and outcomes. A&T is Accelerating the Scale of Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) in Nigeria .The initiative in Nigeria is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).”

‘Alive & Thrive is advancing progress within the context of supporting the Government of Nigeria at the state and national levels in meeting the 2025 WHA targets for nutrition, en route to the 2030 SDGs.”

“To protect ,promote and  support breastfeeding, A&T will advocate to government at all levels, public /private sectors, workplaces and community gatekeepers to scale-up breastfeeding promotion and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers and their babies.”

“Advocate for the Establishment of creches across MDAs and other workplaces,push for the legislation of 6 months paid maternity leave, continue to partner with government and other stakeholders to expand and strategically scale up MIYCN coverage especially in primary health care facilities which will enhance breastfeeding.”

She noted tbat workplace limitations remain the most common reason for women to never breastfeed or to stop breastfeeding earlier than recommended by WHO, or than they wanted themselves.

“Even with adequate maternity and parental leave, lack of support for breastfeeding at the workplace can undermine breastfeeding,” she said.

Rahila Maishanu, the Breastmilk Substitute Desk Officer, NAFDAC, said during her presentation that early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth protects the newborn from acquiring infections and reduces mortality.

“Breastmilk is best for baby and contains optimal nutrients for growth and development and prevents malnutrition. It is also a critical source of energy and nutrients during illness. It protects against infections and reduces incidences of sudden death,” she said.

There were goodwill messages from the State Ministry of Health, the Kaduna State House of Assembly,ANRIN, and experience sharing on 6 months paid maternity leave/creche for working mothers.

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