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Nutritionists and experts in the health sector have strongly advocated for the practice of exclusive breastfeeding of infants and young children in the first six months by mothers saying it would reduce the high rate of of infant mortality in the country.
Those who spoke at a one-day symposium on breastfeeding organised by an initiative, Alive and Thrive in collaboration with the Osun State Primary Health Care Development, posited that exclusive breastfeeding improves survival, health and economic development of a country.
Stakeholders that discussed extensively approaches to tackling barriers to exclusive breastfeeding were in attendance.
The participants which included health practitioners, parents, religious leaders, media practitioners, evironmental sanitation officers, local government workers, non-governmental organisations, National Union of Teachers among other stakeholders promised to sensitise citizens of the Osun state within their reach to imbibe exclusive breastfeeding culture.
The participants also called on husbands to always assist their wives during breastfeeding saying a nursing mother should not undergo excess stress.
Speaking in Osogbo during the symposium held on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at Leisure Springs Hotel in Osogbo, the Regional Director, Alive and Thrive, Babajide Adebisi, said the foundation has only partnered Osun for support, noting that the state has a fair record on breastfeeding when compared to other states.
He noted that children under six months who are not breastfed are prone to death than those who receive breast milk.
He frowned at the bottle feeding practice which he said has increased in Osun state, saying the rate of diarrhea which is one of the leading causes of under five mortality in the country would also increase.
The Executive Director, Osun State Primary Health Care Development, Dr. Kayode Ogunniyi, who explained the benefit of breast milk, said “a child that is severely malnourished in the first three years would not be able to think well.
He said, “a lot of mothers are shortchanging their children because they want to look younger and the implication is that we have a lot of mediocres in future.
Also, a Professor of Nutrition in the Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Mrs M. F. Olumakaye, advocated training of all health care staff in skills necessary to implement exclusive breastfeeding.
A Director of Nutrition Service and Health Education in the state health care, Dr James Oloyede, advised the government to enforce breastfeeding policy.
He suggested that government should increase maternity leave from the current three months to between 4 and 6 months to enable mothers complete the exclusive breastfeeding period.
Also Speaking on the barriers of exclusive breastfeeding, Mr. Izuchukwu Offiaeli, a public health and nutrition programme manager in the state, advised parents to ensure breastfeeding of their children to two years and beyond.
For Offiaeli, employers should ensure that they establish breasfeeding corners at their places of work in order to allow mothers breasfeed their children conveniently.