Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre in Jabi, Abuja, Prof. Sa'ad Ahmed, has advised nursing mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding.
Ahmed gave the advice at the opening of the World Breastfeeding Week 2021, on Wednesday, in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the 2021 celebration is "Protect Breastfeeding: A shared responsibility."
Ahmed was represented by the hospital Head of Clinical Services, Dr. Eziechila Joseph.
He said that the benefits of breastfeeding could never be overemphasised, adding that it was important to inculcate the habit of exclusive breastfeeding because it was cheap and beneficial to babies.
"You don't need to buy it in the market and with the economic situation, it is even better because God has endowed us with it.
"We have come today, to celebrate the world breastfeeding day and charge all and sundry to imbibe and teach the younger females, to see the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for six months," Ahmed said.
The Local Organising Committee Chairperson, Dr. Eziechila Bessie, said that "every good house needed a solid foundation.
"Proper nutrition is the bedrock of raising a healthy child and consequently a healthy nation."
Bessei said that the country was behind when it comes to child health indices.
"If we must attain sustainable development goals, with respect to reducing the neonatal, infant and under-five mortality rates in our nation, then we must pay particular attention to breastfeeding and especially exclusive breastfeeding," she said.
Similarly, the Director of, Family Health Department, of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Salam Anas, said that breastfeeding was not only the responsibility of the mother, but partners, family members and health professionals all have roles to play.
She said that breastfeeding was an important public health issue because it promotes health, prevents diseases, helps contribute to reducing health inequalities and save health services cost for countries.
Anas said that breastfeeding played an important role in the prevention of all forms of childhood malnutrition including undernutrition, obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies.
She said that breast milk contains antibodies that help protect against many childhood illnesses.
A breastfeeding mother, Mrs Olarewaju Omolola, at the occasion, called on the government to extend maternity leave for new mothers.
She said that the four months were not enough to properly breastfeed a new baby and she urged the government to review the policy.