The Anambra State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (ASPHCDA) says the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the state increased from 17 per cent in 2018 to 27 per cent in 2022.
Chioma Ezenyimulu, the executive secretary of the agency, made the disclosure at the opening of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) at the Maternal and Child Health Centre, Amawbia in Awka, on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WBW is celebrated on 1 August to 7 August every year, to raise awareness and galvanise actions to promote exclusive breastfeeding.
The theme for this year’s commemoration is Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support’.
Ms Ezenyimulu, a medical doctor, said that Anambra recorded an increase in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding due to intensified awareness and counselling programmes at health facilities.
“The figure of 27 per cent is still low and below the national target of 50 per cent by 2025.
“We are calling on residents to become advocates of exclusive breastfeeding and support mothers to practice optimal breastfeeding.
“The practice of exclusive breastfeeding will ensure the provision of vital and adequate nutrients required for healthy and maximal growth and development as well as eradication of childhood malnutrition in the state, ” she said.
Also speaking, Afam Obidike, the state’s commissioner for health, said the efforts of the current administration were geared towards the promotion of maternal and child survival strategies.
Mr Obidike, a medical doctor, urged fathers to support their breastfeeding wives as exclusive breastfeeding could be exhausting for mothers.
“A mother needs to be psychologically, physically and emotionally balanced to breastfeed optimally. Therefore, fathers should be there to provide all that the woman needs,” he said.
In his remarks, Moses Ohamaeme, Cluster Coordinator, representing the World Health Organisation and United Nations agencies, said that exclusively breastfed children become healthy and productive adults.
According to him, such children are protected from severe complications arising from childhood killer diseases.