The Commissioner for Health in Ekiti State, Dr. Oyebanji Filani, says no fewer than 800,000 babies die of poor breastfeeding yearly across the globe.
Filani said this at a news conference to commemorate the 2020 edition of the breastfeeding week on Thursday in Ado Ekiti.
According to him, poor breastfeeding is largely responsible for the high infant mortality rate in the country.
He, however, noted that the incident was gradually being checkmated following the advent of exclusive breastfeeding and improved medical practices.
The Commissioner said Ekiti State was rated as having 55.4 per cent compliance with the first six months exclusive breastfeeding policy it initiated in 2019.
He said the improvement in the state was due to the proactive action taken by Governor Kayode Fayemi in terms of increased sensitisation.
Filani said: “Findings have shown that investing in breastfeeding will prevent 13 per cent of child deaths and morbidity if 90 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants, for the first six months of life.
“Globally, only 38 per cent of infants are exclusively breasted and suboptimal breastfeeding contributes to 800,000 infant deaths globally on annual basis.
“So, any baby who is exclusively breastfed for the first six months without any formula, has fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea and has fewer hospitalisations and trips to the doctor.
“It is so significant that it has helped to remove the myth and unacceptable use of herbs and concoctions for neonate and young children,” he stated.
Filani added that exclusive breastfeeding, aside reducing the rate of child mortality, would also rake in an estimated $150 million into the country’s economy yearly.
The Commissioner noted that as part of the policy that would enhance adequate care for infants in Ekiti, six months had been approved for maternity leave for female civil servants.
He added that the government was also considering granting paternity leave to the male civil servants, to make both parents responsible for the care of their newborns.
Filani then appealed to mothers to refrain from unwholesome cultural practices, mandating giving of water and other fluids to newborns and embrace exclusive breastfeeding.
He added that this would assist in boosting the baby’s immunities, thereby reducing morbidity and mortality rates in the system.