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By Nicholas Kalu,
The Cross River State Primary Healthcare and Development Agency says it wants to increase maternity leave for working nursing mothers from three months to six months.
State Nutrition Officer, Lady Regina Adie, said this at a media round-table organized by the Agency with support from FHI360/Alive and Thrive, in Calabar on Thursday, to share perspectives on issues related to the promotion of optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in Cross River State.
She said they sought the extension of the leave to enable mothers carry out exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of their babies’ lives.
Adie said among other efforts to achieve this, they had conducted advocacy visits to the House Committee members on Health in the State House of Assembly.
She said they also had advocacy to traditional and religious leaders to create awareness on the benefits of breast feeding and to encourage early initiation and exclusive breast feeding among care givers in communities.
She said they also women, youths, and community leaders and also create awareness through the media, as well as train health workers on early initiation and exclusive breast-feeding counselling during antenatal clinics and post-natal services.
Director of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Dr Iwara Iwara, who spoke on men’s involvement in promoting breastfeeding, said men have overtime mistakenly believed that breast feeding is for babies and mothers alone, and see themselves as passive, neutral or outside observers of the child’s development cycle.
Iwara said fathers have very high potential to facilitate or undermine the success of breast-feeding in every home and an understanding of their roles and responsibilities is key tool for helping their breastfeeding partners.
He said breast milk contains all needed nutrient requirements for baby, protects against common childhood illnesses, reduces obesity and over weight in children, less irritation and crying, increases child-mother bonding and high intelligent quotient (IQ) for the child.
Among benefits of breastfeeding for the mother he said were stress reduction, increase confidence and self-esteem, increase in the calm disposition, ease of travel, natural family planning method, cost effective method of feeding and simple and less cumbersome method of feeding the babies.
Representatives of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), also made presentations at the forum.
Source; The Nation Newspaper