Since 1992, the World over devotes and celebrates breast feeding practices in a week-long series of activities. This is usually celebrated in the month of August and Kogi State is not left out. The theme for 2022 tagged: “Step up breastfeeding: Educate and support” is to raise more awareness on the importance of breastfeeding.
The beginning of the commemoration was a Press briefing by the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Kogi State- Dr Zakari Usman on Monday, the 8th of August, 2022 at the Ministry’s Conference Hall.
Dr Zakari reiterated the fact that “Breast milk is the most important diet for a child from birth to Two (2) years while it is important to exclusively breastfeed a child for the first six (6) months of life”. He went on to provide statistics of exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria at 29% (NNHS 2018) while Kogi State rates at 32%. This goes to show that the larger percentage of “infants in Nigeria and Kogi State are denied the benefits of breast milk in their formative years”. The State Ministry of Health threw its weight behind the program and supported activities to include road walk and stakeholder sensitization within the week.
The climax of the week long events was the sensitization of Nursing Mothers at Primary Health Centre (PHC) level. The event was organized and implemented by the State Primary Health Care Development Agency. The venue was PHC Old Market Lokoja on Friday, 12th August 2022.
The State Nutrition Officer- Mal. Abdulazeez Usman while delivering his opening remarks emphasized why the event had to be brought to the target group which are Nursing Mothers and women of child bearing age, the advantages of breast feeding and benefits to the infants.
The HCH – Dr Zakari Usman who took time out of his very tight and busy schedules to attend the event applauded the initiative of the SPHCDA to step down the message of the week practically to the persons it was target at. In his address, he enumerated advantages of breast milk that not only come in “attractive containers” but readily available, no fear of expiration and naturally warm. He encouraged breastfeeding mothers not to buy into the misconception of breastfeeding being responsible for sagging breasts and thereby deny their babies the needed breast milk.
High point of the sensitization was brief lecture and practical demonstration by Dr Hadiya Ismail Ahmad, the Maternal and Child Health Focal person of KSPHCDA who not only communicated the message more to the mothers in Hausa Language (Language of the immediate environment), but helped a nursing mother do it right while the HCH- Dr Zakari Usman, ED KSPHCDA- Dr Abubakar Yakubu, ES KHIA- Dr Aledare Adekunle, SPC ANRiN- Mr Bolarinwa Ogundusi, Mr Omokere Joe representing the PS MFB&EP, BHCPF FP – Dr Emmanuel Bola Jonah witnessed and supported the session among others.
The Executive Director kogi State PHCDA- Dr Abubakar Yakubu was full of gratitude to God who makes all things possible and for insight how to work given any opportunity. He immensely appreciated the HCH- Dr Zakari for his presence, the ES of the State Health Insurance Agency, Development Partners, Programme Officers and Staff of both the SMOH and KSPHCDA for their support in bringing quality, accessible and affordable health care to the domain of the people.
Dr Yakubu, adding to the messages delivered to Nursing mothers, encouraged them that exclusively breastfed babies are healthier, sharp and smart as it contributes to the fast development of infant brains. He appealed to program officers to integrate the message on the importance of breastfeeding during immunization activities in the hope to see Kogi ratings improve in subsequent reports.
“Breast milk is the most important diet for a child from birth to Two (2) years while it is important to exclusively breastfeed a child for the first six (6) months of life”. He went on to provide statistics of exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria at 29% (NNHS 2018) while Kogi State rates at 32%. This goes to show that the larger percentage of “infants in Nigeria and Kogi State are denied the benefits of breast milk in their formative years”.
Dr Zakari Usman
Hon Commissioner for Health, Kogi State
“Exclusively breastfed babies are healthier, sharp and smart as it contributes to the fast development of infant brains.
Dr Abubakar Yakubu