The Imo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Edward Ihejirika, has said that exclusive breastfeeding by nursing mothers could prevent 13 per cent deaths in infants.
This, he said, is against complementary feeding which could prevent death by only six per cent.
Ihejirika made this known at a press briefing to commence the 2014 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) Celebration held in Owerri .
He said the state has a record of 8.9 per cent rate for six months exclusive breastfeeding against the complementary feeding which rate is 28.1 per cent.
He called on breastfeeding mothers to improve on the two care practices which he said are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving 20 per cent of children under five.
Ihejirika said that the recommended practice is exclusive breastfeeding for six months, introduction of adequate complementary feeding at six months and continued breastfeeding for two years or more.
He noted that the state has a high infant and under-five mortality rates of 11.9 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively.
The Commissioner observed that over 50 per cent of child mortality was directly attributable to malnutrition while breastfeeding is key to tackling the burden of malnutrition and mortality.
“Among the child survival strategies, promotion of exclusive breastfeeding ranked first and was estimated to have the potential to prevent 13 per cent of all deaths,” he said.
The commissioner said that the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) launched in 1991 was one of the key strategies for the improvement of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF).
He said it had contributed immensely to the achievement of the target for the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4, which was to reduce under-five child mortality by two thirds by 2015.
Ihejirika noted that the theme of this year’s celebration “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life” was to assert the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in the MDG countdown and beyond.
“This year’s WBW theme responds to the latest countdown by asserting the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in the past 2015 agenda and engaging as many groups and people of all ages,” he said.
He said the objective of this year’s WBW was to inform people about the MDGs and how they relate to breastfeeding and IYCF.
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