Motherless babies in orphanages across the country will soon have access to regular breast milk as a non-governmental organisation (NGO) says it will establish day-care centres equipped with breast milk-banks.
The founder, African International Baby-care Initiative (Afribaby), Dr Oscar Odiboh, announced in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Port Harcourt.
Odiboh said that Afribaby realised the negative implications of inadequate breast-feeding of babies and decided to establish the banks to guarantee access to breast milk for orphaned babies.
“We want to ensure that no baby in Nigeria lacks access to breast milk; whether the mother is alive or not, and whether there is a family or not.
“So, we want to build baby care and mother care centres that will also have breast milk banks.
“The buildings will be equipped with about 20 breast milk tanks each; such that just as people donate blood, mothers can come and donate breast milk.”
Odiboh said the centre would be established in phases with a pilot centre in Lagos and later in all the states of the federation.
He said that the project that was estimated to cost N1 billion would be extended to five African countries in the future.
Noting that the project would be the first of its kind in the country, Odiboh solicited for assistance from the federal and state governments as well as public-spirited individuals.
He said children who were exclusively breast-fed were more likely to survive the first six months of life than non-breast-fed babies.
He stated that children who were not adequately breast-fed tended to be dull, unintelligent and un-sociable, adding that they were more likely to be ill than children who were exclusively breast-fed.
“So, if it happens that a baby loses the mother at birth; any nursing mother can go to the centre and donate her breast-milk.
“We have millions of mothers who will be donating every day, and so we are going to have a testing laboratory where breast-milk will be tested before passing on to the tanks,” he said.
Odiboh said that breast-milk contained nutrients that protect children from diseases that could threaten their lives, including pneumonia and diarrhea.
He called for a legislation for a compulsory six-month maternity leave for nursing mothers, saying it would guarantee exclusive breast-feeding of newly born babies.
According to him, a situation where employers approved only three months maternity leave for nursing mothers was partly responsible for the decline in breast-feeding of babies.
He also suggested a legislation to allow fathers have two weeks paternity leave to enable them assist their wives and ensure exclusive breast-feeding of new born babies.