The Department of Health recommends that babies are breastfed exclusively for the first six months of their life with continuation of breastfeeding as part of the infant's diet throughout the first one to two years and beyond.
"Nigeria is joining the world to encourage unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding because 87 per cent of preventable death in infants under six months can be effectively averted, especially if breastfeeding practices are initiated within an hour from birth".
RCPCH President Neena Modi also warned that there were ongoing issues with current breastfeeding provisions, saying that women in Britain who wanted to breastfeed their children are not given enough support.
The organization is calling for $5.7 billion - or $4.70 per newborn - in funding over the next decade to improve global exclusive breast-feeding rates, which now fall at 40%, according to Lucy Sullivan, MBA, executive director of 1,000 Days, an organization that works toward improving nutrition between pregnancy and infanthood for mothers and their children.
"The low rate of exclusive breastfeeding leads to more than 100,000 child deaths and translates into nearly $12 billion in future economic losses for the country which is being incurred in terms of health facilities, hospital space, logistics, investments, overhead cost among others".
By contrast, low breastfeeding rates translate into billions of dollars' worth of lost productivity and health care costs to treat preventable illnesses and chronic diseases. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding promotion; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million.
In addition, breastfeeding has medical and psychological benefits for the mother with faster maternal recovery, a return to their normal weight, and reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
After 6 months, mothers and caregivers are encouraged to start giving complementary foods with continued breastfeeding to meet the energy requirements and nutritional needs of the child.
Increasing breastfeeding rates is estimated to save 823,000 lives per year among children below the age of five.
The UNICEF official, who identified children as the future of the country, said the best legacy Nigeria could live for a better country tomorrow was to invest in interventions that promote breastfeeding.
That's why World Health Assembly adopted an International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes in 1981, which aims to stop inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes, to ensure that mothers make feeding choices "based on impartial information and free of commercial influences".
Data released in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 81.1 percent of mothers nationally initiate breastfeeding (69.2 percent in Georgia), 51.8 percent are still breastfeeding at six months (48.9 percent in Georgia), and 30.7 percent continue for 12 months (29.8 percent in Georgia).
The GBC scorecard also affirm the need for the strengthening of monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes, and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets.
The report adds that breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of numerous United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
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