By Julie Ekong
Stakeholders in the health sector have called on parents to take exclusive breastfeeding more seriously starting from maternal nutrition to birth including the first one thousand days of the life of a child.
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Nutrition Specialist Mrs Ada Ezeogu made the call during a Media Advocacy workshop put together by the National Orientation Agency, NOA, in collaboration with UNICEF in Lagos.
Mrs Ezeogu who described the first 1000 days of the birth of a child as golden window that must not be missed, noted that if adhered strictly, it would stop to all forms of damage children encountered in their early stage, including childhood killer diseases.
” According to her, it is important that children under two years are first, subjected to exclusive breastfeeding for six months, then the right kinds of nutritional foods thereafter ” – Ezeogu.
Mrs Ezeogu stressed “The first 1,000 days is a golden window of a child’s mental and physical developmental life, because that is when the brain is being built, the time a lifelong for healthy living is laid “.
” The lack of vital nutrients from the point where pregnancy is confirmed and in the early stage of a child’s life results to problems such as stunted growth and wasting which is irreversible,” she stressed.
Exclusive breastfeeding she emphasized, helps the child to develop physically and mentally, it is on record that the child’s intelligence and general activities is a guarantee that they have a good start in life.
She advocated proper feeding habits to enable healthy development of the child.
The Lagos State Nutrition Officer, Ministry of Health, Mrs Olanrewaju Olubunmi, expressed dismay that cesarean section is contributing negatively to achieving the desired results in early initiation to Breastmilk, bonding and by extension exclusive breastfeeding.
She explained that, after cesarean section which has become rampant, putting the child to breast becomes difficult due to darth of staff.
Mrs Olanrewaju feared that, if the trend was not checked, it would further reduce the gains and leave Lagos on the last rung of states with high incidences of malnutrition, stunting, and wasting children.
” It would have been easier if health workers were more to assist mothers put their babies to breast after the ceserean section. Not putting the baby to breast immediately is a problem. The health workers are aware but they have a lot to attend to ” – Mrs Olanrewaju
Speaking on immunization, the State Immunization Officer, Mrs Elizabeth Taiwo, said, issues around data quality and data disparity affects immunization outcomes adding that DHIS 2 reporting platform should be upgraded by national and state to ensure data harmonization are planned and conducted.
” Others are ” Children are missed due to the distance of the PHC to community members. She advised that efforts should be intensified to reach for communities through outreaches and active mobilization activities. ”
And on COVID – 19 Vaccination, the Immunization Programme Coordinator, Dr Olubunmi Akinlade who noted that contrary to people’s perception that COVID – 19 is no more, she warned that the virus is still very much around hence the need for members of the public to continue with the rules of personal hygiene and for those who are yet to get vaccinated to do so without delay.
” Children from 12 years can now take COVID – 19 vaccine. We have 145mobile vaccinators that moves from place to place to vaccinate, places like, markets, worship centres and institutions among others ” – Dr Akinlade
According to her ” We have task force to look into fake vaccination cards adding that, Lagos needs to vaccinate 69,000 per day to meet the target dates. We have only done 29 percent so the team needs to do more “.
The highlight of the event was the presence of COVID – 19 officials invited to vaccinate willing journalists.