Available statistics from the National Demographic Health Survey has shown that only 13 in 100 mother’s breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first few months of life.
It also suggests that four out of five babies are not exclusively breastfed within the first hour months of their lives.
A decline in numbers from 17% to 13% in 2008, prompted health authorities to set targets to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding among women to at least 50% by 2015 through community support groups for women, and in turn increase child nutrition.
Health minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said an underlying factor for the more than 50% mortality among children less than five years is associated with malnutrition which lowers children’s immunity and leaves them vulnerable to pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria.
In his comments to commemorate World Breastfeeding week delivered by the permanent secretary in the ministry Sani Bala, Chukwu said “malnutrition in early stages, particularly in the first 1,000 days predisposes a child to a condition that causes irreversible physical and cognitive damage.”
“Breastfeeding within 30 minutes of life and up to 6 months is one of the most powerful weapons to fight malnutrition,” said Susan Grant, country director for Save the Children.