Ebonyi State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezuruike, yesterday, stressed the importance of exclusive breastfeeding of children for at least two years.
Umezuruike, who stated this in Abakaliki at a media briefing to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, said the event was organised to seek support for breastfeeding and encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies for up to two years.
He said six months exclusive breastfeeding usually protected children from diarrhea, cholera and pneumonia, while protecting mothers from breast, cervix and uterus cancers, and advised breastfeeding mothers to keep general hygiene.
Meanwhile, representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said there was need to support exclusive breastfeeding amid the COVID-19 pandemic through stronger measures.
Speaking on “Supporting Breastfeeding For A Healthier Planet,” Hawkins said breast milk saves children’s lives as it provides antibodies that give babies a healthy boost and protect them against childhood illnesses.
He added that UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended that babies be fed only breast milk for the first six months, after which they should continue breastfeeding and eating other nutritious and safe foods until two years or beyond.
He, however, noted that only 29 per cent of Nigerian babies between age 0 and six months were breastfed exclusively, adding, “breast milk substitutes such as infant formula, other milk products, and beverages not only contribute negatively to the health and development of children, but also to environmental degradation and climate change.”
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