73% of Nigerian children denied exclusive breastfeeding —Health Ministry

The Ministry of Health has said that a national survey revealed that only 27 per cent of children in the country are given exclusive breastfeeding by their mothers, leaving a deficit of 73 per cent being denied the right.

This was disclosed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi, in Abuja on Tuesday during the inauguration of the National Zero Water Campaign to this year’s commemorate the 2019 World Breastfeeding Week.

Mashi said that the national survey showed that at a point, nearly all children in Nigeria were breastfed, but expressed sadness that the same survey pointed out a negative trend with severe implications.

He said, “According to the National Nutrition and Health Survey 2018, almost 97 per cent of children are breastfed at one time or the other. However, what is sad is that according to the same report, only about 27 per cent of these children are exclusively breastfed and about one in five are put to breast within the first hour of life.

“A major finding of that report is that one of the biggest threats to exclusive breastfeeding is that many of these children are given water or complementary foods within the first six months of life.”

Mashi added that to correct the practice, the FG, in collaboration with partners, had developed the National Zero Water Campaign to draw the attention of the community, households and caregivers to the importance of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding.

Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, who had also lamented the national prevalence rate of stunted children in Nigeria, affirmed her commitment to align with all relevant stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of the Zero Water Campaign through her Future Assured Programme.

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