United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its partners, Bayelsa State government, have reiterated that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months remains the surest way to lower risks of cancers and many other diseases among mothers.
Cancer, High Blood Pressure (HBP) and osteoporosis are presently ravaging Sub-Saharan Africa and have been identified among the major causes of deaths in the world.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated yearly from August 1 to 7 in more than 120 countries.
Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, said breastfeeding nourishes and protects children.
Speaking on ‘Breastfeeding: The Foundation of Life’, Etebu, represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Inodu Nathaniel, said: “Mothers that breastfeed are shown to have lower risks of cancers, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, etc. The longstanding benefits of breastfeeding are backed by strong scientific evidence.”
Representative of UNICEF and its development partners in the state, Mr. Makio Perekeme, urged mothers to ensure that they breastfed their babies exclusively.
Perekeme added: “It is very important to put the baby to your breast within the first 30 minutes after birth to stimulate milk production. Make sure you feed your baby with the first yellowish milk known as colostrum; it protects your baby from many diseases.
“Exclusive breastfeeding means giving milk only – no other milks, foods or liquids, not even sips of water – except for medicines prescribed by a doctor or nurse.”
Director, Primary Health Care, Dr. Tarimobowei Egberipou, said the theme for this year’s celebration sought to draw the attention of advocates, policy makers and young people to partnerships that promote breastfeeding.
According to him, some of the objectives of the partnership include to inform people about the link between good nutrition, food security, poverty reduction and breastfeeding.
The breastfeeding week took place across the eight local government areas of the state with staff of the health ministry, UNICEF and other partners taking the campaign to the mothers.