The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have expressed their intention towards bringing people of common goal together for breastfeeding week as the first pathway to preserving a healthier and a better planet.
The Nutritional Officer of UNICEF in Ebonyi State, Mr Cyprain Ogbonna, gave the assurance to people on Saturday in Abakaliki during an event to mark the start of the 2020 celebration of World Breastfeeding week.
This year’s theme “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet,” is to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding for mothers and infants.
Ogbonna said that exclusive breastfeeding had over the years prevented several childhood diseases and brought lifelong positive benefits associated with child spacing.
He further listed other benefits as : risk reduction for some breast and ovarian cancers as well as hypertension.
Describing breast milk, Ogbonna said it is a nature-given-first food that is needed to be preserved for its undebatable benefits to a mother and her baby, adding that the milk was a critical part of a sustainable food system.
The Nutritional Officer said that it would be best to start breastfeeding within one hour of birth and exclusively done for the first six months of life, after which mothers should introduce appropriate complementary foods to her baby for two years and beyond.
He stated that misuse of breast milk substitutes should be reprobated, advising that breastfeeding should be maintained, but hygienically done during this current pandemic.
Ogbonna said: “Mothers are recommended to breastfeed their child or children within 30 minutes of birth. While mothers doing exclusive should go for the first six months of life.
“Also mother or caregiver should timely introduce complementary feeding based on local food products at six months while continuing breastfeeding up to two years and beyond,” he said.
The Nutrition Manager of UNICEF in Enugu, Hanifa Namusoke, also said that she had championed the cause in Ebonyi to increase the valve and improve the wellbeing of mother and child.
Namusoke said in line with the theme, WHO and UNICEF called on governments to protect and promote a critical component of breastfeeding support.
“Breast milk is complete for a healthier planet and that is why WHO and UNICEF recommend optimal infant and young child feeding practices with emphasis on early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth,” Namusoke said.