Ekiti State Government, through the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, on Tuesday embarked on a three-day sensitization activity across the 16 Local Government Areas of the state to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW 2020), a global annual event organised to sensitise the public on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to infants and nursing mothers alike.
This year’s event which ends on Thursday September 3, 2020, is tagged; ‘Supporting Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet’, and is sponsored by Ekiti State Committee on Food and Nutrition in collaboration with State Primary Health Care Development Agency.
According to the Secretary, State Committee on Food and Nutrition, Mr Ade Adesanmi, this event is also in accord with the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) breastfeeding campaign aimed at reducing infant and maternal mortality rate to the barest minimum, while facilitating work life balance for female workers.
Adesanmi who is also the State Nutrition Officer, outlined the list of activities earmarked for this year’s event namely; Radio and Television Sensitisation programme, Public engagements through phone-in programmes on EKTV, Ekiti FM, and Voice FM. Nursing mothers across the state are also engaged through community sensitisation/discussion platforms.
Field activities include: Motorised campaign on importance of Breastfeeding to the baby, mother and society at large; Distribution of flyers to nursing mothers; Posters on Breastfeeding were distributed to Primary Health Care facilities across the state; Counselling for mothers on importance of breastfeeding.
Stakeholders involved in the staging of this year’s WBW2020 are; Commissioner, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning (MBEP),Mr Femi Ajayi; Permanent Secretary, MBEP, Mr Adefolaju; Permanent Secretary, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Pharmacist Bisi Arogundade; Secretary State Committee on Food and Nutrition, Mr Ade Adesanmi ( State Nutrition Officer); and Officer in charge, Mrs Bolanle Olorunyomi.
One of the respondents in the cause of the community sensitisation, Mrs Jimoh Kehinde in Erinfun community in Ago Aduloju, Ado Local Government Area, acknowledged the efforts of the government in ensuring nursing mothers are educated on the need to observe exclusive breastfeeding.
She also mentioned that the new health policy, as announced by Governor Fayemi has been very helpful in sustaining the health her child.
“I am really happy about this initiative. It has really helped me as a nursing mother, educating me on the best practice to keep my child healthy. We mothers in Ekiti state are ready to cooperate with the government on exclusive breastfeeding and we are fully in support of the programme,” she said.
Prior to the weeklong event, in February 2020, Governor Kayode Fayemi approved six-month maternity leave for nursing mothers in the State’s Civil Service to meet the global target of exclusive breastfeeding rate of 50 per cent. This policy replaces the old three months leave.
According to the Governor, the new policy is aimed at improving maternal health and encourage nursing mothers to observe fully observe the exclusive breastfeeding programme as campaigned by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF). The policy in itself, promotes gender inclusiveness and the rights of children to life. More so, this will be in addition to the expectation of improvement in the work efficiency of healthier children arising from the policy when they become working adults.
Other achievements of the Ekiti State Government include implementation of a series of policies and programmes to effectively tackle factors militating against the culture of exclusive breastfeeding in the State which is a pointer to increase in child mortality.
To further compliment the exclusive breastfeeding campaign, In July 2020, the Governor Kayode Fayemi led administration announced a free basic healthcare insurance programme for nursing mothers and infants up to 5 years of age.
Also, in July 2019, the government organised a training workshop on Maternal and Prenatal Death Surveillance and Response for its health professionals. The training also highlighted the importance of exclusive breastfeeding as a means to ending child mortality.
Other backup programmes are: Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) which addresses the feeding pattern of infants up to age five; Prevention and Treatment of Micronutrient Deficiencies which include the introduction of Vitamin A, Iodine, Zinc and Folic Acid; and Nutrition counselling at the primary health care facilities.
The State Government, through its Nutrition Officers, have also ensured adequate monitoring and supervision across the state.
According to National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS), 2014, exclusive breastfeeding rate in Ekiti state was 39.8 percent and rose to 55.4 percent in 2018. However, more efforts are still needed to ensure coverage of 90% to achieve the maximum benefit from exclusive breastfeeding.
Source: Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria