… tasks mothers on exclusive breastfeeding
Raymond Ozoji, Awka
Anambra State Baby-friendly Initiative and Young Child Feeding expert, Ngozi Ekwedike, has observed that about 90% of children in Anambra state have stunted growth due to poor feeding.
She also observed that the nutritional status of children in Anambra was abysmally low as about 500,000 under 5 children already have their brains compromised as a result of stunted growth.
Ekwedike who made the observations at a sensitization workshop held at Dunukofia council headquarters on Thursday for community women leaders of the 21 local government areas In the state on Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding, said it was the situation that prompted the training on optimal infant and young child feeding adding that there was need to teach women the efficacy and nutritional value of breast milk for their babies to reduce the scourge of malnurished children in the state.
She explained that for a child to develop his full potentials, he needs adequate nutrition emphasising that the mother has to feed well during pregnancy for proper development of the child and thereafter continue with exclusive breast feeding for the first six months of birth till two years alongside complementary feeding .
According to her, the training was organized by the Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency for community leaders to sensitise them on the importance of optimal nutrition for infants for the first 33 months of birth stressing that such periods were delicate and critical in the cognitive development of the child.
Although she expressed concern about the dearth of health workers across the nation especially in Anambra health facilities he appealed to the state government to remedy the situation as more personnel were required in the health sector to attend to the medical needs of the populace.
Meanwhile, some of the benefiaries of the workshop commended the state government for the exercise saying that it was a quick response to addressing ignorance in infant and young child feeding.
Mrs. Eke Justina Ngozi a community woman leader in Ugbenu Awka-North local government area said she learnt that breast feeding was vital for children under six months of birth.
She also said that breast milk aids development of brain cells in infants while artificial milk was inimical to the cognitive development of the child.
According to her, Awka-North was a riverine area and they also have malnurished children but the knowledge garnered from the training would be replicated in the area to ameliorate the situation.
Another community leader from Agulu Anaocha local government area who gave his name as Fidelis noted that the programme exposed women to breastfeeding their babies for the period of 2 years for proper development .
He equally emphasized the need for such exercise to be organized In the villages and other rural settings where women would be taught the importance of exclusive breastfeeding as well as proper young child feeding while stressing the need for the programme to be organized periodically to guard against malnutrition and retarded growth in infants.