By Tina Abeku
As the world breastfeeding week celebration comes to a close, lactating mothers including People living with Disabilities, (PWDs), in local communities of the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT), have been told to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for the wellbeing of their newborns.
Chief Executive Officer, (CEO), of March Health Care Initiative, (MCI), comrade Olubunmi Lawal-Aiyedun said breastfeeding remains one of life’s best vaccines for babies, especially at the early stages of life, that is why it is important for every mother and intending mother to know its benefits and how to properly breastfeed.
Speaking at a ‘Community Influencers for Optimal Breastfeeding’ event marking the end of the weeklong celebration at the weekend in Abuja, she said the only way Nigeria can attain its 50 percent target for breastfeeding in line with the Social Development Goals, (SDGs), is to target the grassroots community because that is where the majority of the mothers need enlightenment.
Lawal-Aiyedun explained that women are the key players and drivers of realizing the breastfeeding goals set by the government and this also means that there must be inclusivity of people with disability.
According to her, “We cannot afford to leave anyone behind if Nigeria is to attain 50 percent breastfeeding target and meet the SDGs goals by 2030. This means that people with disability must be carried along also.
“Breastfeeding cannot increase if we are not targeting the grassroots and the people with disability. We must work on attitudinal change; we must respect our pregnant and breastfeeding women as well. If we can do this, then come 2030, SDGs can be achieved in this regard.
She said all hands must be on deck to do this. “We are calling on all stakeholders to support us in this regard because as an NGO, we can do all we can to rally our women and their husbands at the community level but we have a limit to what we can achieve if we are not being supported.
Dorcas, Sunday, a person with a disability who took part in the sensitization meeting, expressed optimism that PWDs are gradually being considered in the scheme of things.
A first-time mother-to-be, Sunday advocated a more rigorous outreach to many others with disability especially, as an intervention to boost the wellbeing of their babies.
“with what I am seeing here, I feel that next time this type of program is holding, people in my community will benefit more,” she said.
Speaking on the importance of the initiative on encouraging grassroots women to exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months from birth, one of the program facilitators, Morayo Eboh, said “women at the grassroots need the support of the government and not for-profit organizations like the March Care Initiative. If all of us put our hands together to help the women at the grassroots, we can reduce the rate at which maternal mortality is rising.
Mrs Victoria Obono, the wife of the pastor of the Rhema Chapel, Abuja, pointed out that “children need milk to grow properly so the women that are breastfeeding these children need all the support that they can get.”
The high point of the event was a baby show and awards presentation among others.