Exclusive breastfeeding bas been identified as a major panacea for curbing malnutrition and infants mortality as a result of which nursing mothers and pregnant women have been advised to attach importance to exclusive breastfeeding of their new born babies.

The State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Pastor Emmanuel Igbasan, who gave the charge during the commemoration of 2019 World Breast-feeding Week held at Babafunke Ajasin Auditorium, Igbatoro Road Akure, said the benefits are too profound to be ignored, adding that exclusive breastfeeding is the most cost-effective intervention for reducing all forms of malnutrition and infants mortality which is high in Nigeria.

According to him, infants who are exclusively breastfed are not only resistant to disease such as diarrhea and pneumonia but also stand four times survival chance than children who are not.

Pastor Igbasan, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Bunmi Alade, opined that exclusive breastfeeding practices provide a unique early bonding experience for infants and mothers; it also contributes greatly to the baby's psychological and emotional development.

He expressed his displeasure over the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the State, noting that the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 5) report shows that the practice is 20.4% lower than the south west region average of 43.3% which makes the state to be  second to the least State in exclusive breastfeeding practices in the Southwest region.

While describing the theme of this year's celebration "Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding" as apt and the basic truth about the practice, he explained that for the state to make maximum impact and get the desired results on exclusive breastfeeding practices in the localities, new approach was adopted by focusing on other Stakeholders, particularly fathers  rather than focusing on nursing mothers.

In her lecture, the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF), Mrs Ada Ezeogwu said nothing could be compared with breast milk, not even the nutritional value of the baby formula.

Mrs Ezeogwu, who was represented by the Director of Nutrition in the State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Mrs Jumoke Akinkuotu, said God who created breast in His own special way to be baby-friendly, has made it the most important and most beneficial type of food a baby gets to know.

She charged mothers  not to use their jobs or career as excuses to avoid  exclusive breastfeeding because its advantages to the baby are too many, describing early safeguard against the death of the infant just as it help them to grow,  prevents under-nutrition, promotes brain development, as well as reduce the risk of overweight.

The State Director, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Mr Kenneth Azikiwe encouraged fathers to play active role in exclusive breastfeeding of their children rather than feeding them with processed food.

The World Breastfeeding Week is an annual event which holds between 1st and 7th of August every year across the globe to promote exclusive breastfeeding for children in the first six months of life.

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