The wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has charged employers in Nigeria to create an enabling environment for breastfeeding mothers by providing day-care centres, breastfeeding rooms in work places and flexible working hours in order to encourage exclusive breastfeeding among working mothers.
She said many working mothers want to breastfeed for longer than they currently do and these policies will help them do it.
She was speaking during the 2007 World Breastfeeding Week celebrations in Abuja on Tuesday August 1, 2017.
Mrs. Buhari, speaking through Hajo Sani, Senior Special Assistant to the President, called on government to prioritise breastfeeding and invest in programmes and policies that foster the environment for sustainable protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding women. She urged media practitioners and owners to use their platform to increase awareness and support for breastfeeding.
Mrs. Buhari spoke on the Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, saying “I am delighted to be part of the national launch of the Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative (BAI) here in Nigeria, which is the first country to launch the initiative in the world. It shows our commitment in advancing breastfeeding to another level.”
She used the opportunity to commend the organisers of the event.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said breastfeeding is the most effective strategy to combat malnutrition and other related conditions that contribute to infant and young child morbidity and mortality. He said the theme of the event reflects the partnership of all advocates, activists, decision makers, media, young people and celebrants for sustainable results.
Mr. Adewole said even though Nigeria is seen as a breastfeeding nation, with 97 per cent compliance rate, we are lagging behind in the area of exclusive breastfeeding, which has recorded only a marginal increase in the last 15 years.
The minister commended Mrs. Buhari as the national nutritional ambassador saying her commitment to the cause of breastfeeding is unflinching and that her “Future Assured Programme is supporting the Federal Ministry of Health to achieve the health sector goal in the national socio-economic development agenda.”
He praised her commitment to the domestication of the BAI in Nigeria.
Goodwill messages were delivered by officials from UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, DFID, USAID and Dangote Foundation.
Highlights of the event include the unveiling of the BAI logo and the presentation of the National Social and Behavioural Change Communication Strategy for and Young Child Feeding in Nigeria 2016-2020.