Dr Zainab Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, a medical doctor, founder of MEDICAID and wife of Kebbi State governor, raises the bar in breastfeeding and child nutrition campaigns in the country with the establishment of breastfeeding rooms in government workplaces for nursing mothers in the state. This initiative is the first of its kind in the country. YAHYA SARKI writes.
Recently, the wife of the governor of Kebbi State, Dr. Zainab Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, a medical doctor and the founder of MEDICAID foundation, a foundation that enlightens women on dangers of cancer and administers free cancer treatment on women, initiated a concept that attracted national and international acceptance and recognition. The concept which is aimed at improving the health of child and mother through exclusive breastfeeding is the establishment of Breastfeeding Rooms for working mothers in ministries and other government establishments.
The initiative has come to fruition and was launched in Brinin Kebbi, the state capital on Monday August 7, 2017 with the commissioning of Breastfeeding Rooms at the State Secretariat in Gwadangaji.
The event was attended by dignitaries who included the senior special adviser to the wife of the President, Hajiya Hajo Sani, who represented the wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Muhammad Buhari; representatives of Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Association of Paediatric Nurses of Nigeria, Civil Society on Nutrition , UNICEF, the Kebbi State deputy governor, Alhaji Samaila Yombe Dabai, members of the state executive council, officials of Ministry of Women Affsirs and Social Development, civil servants and women groups.
The Kebbi States Head of Service, Alhaji Abubakar Udu Idris commended the wife of Kebbi governor, Dr.Zainab Atiku Bagudu for assisting working mothers in the state with the establishment of the breastfeeding rooms. According to him it will go a long way in bringing succour to working mothers in government establishments. “No doubt that the creation of breastfeeding rooms will bring succour to women civil servants who are breastfeeding their children during work.” He warned all head of government ministries and parastatals to ensure that the breastfeeding rooms were strictly used for the purpose of breastfeeding children. In their separate goodwill messages at the event, representatives of UNICEF, Medical
Women Nurses, Association of Pediatric Nurses and other civil society organisations which praised Dr.Zainab for the initiative noting that it will go a long way in promoting exclusive breastfeeding to babies, describing it as “significant and commendable.”
Mrs. Aisha Buhari, the wife of the president expressed delight in the commissioning of the breastfeeding rooms in the state for working mothers which she notes is the first in Nigeria. “The event came at a time when the world is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with the theme Sustainable Breastfeeding Together,” she said.
The event according to her also is in collaboration with her foundation, Future Assured Programme and other stakeholders with the aim to encourage the establishment or identification of a separate area where mothers can conveniently breastfeed their babies in a work place. She commended the imitative of Dr.Zainab Bagudu in spearheading Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative, noting that Nigeria is the first to launch it in the world. “Today’s event is an indication of our commitment in advancing breastfeeding at all levels. The benefits of breastfeeding are enormous. These includes equipping babies with the essential nutrients and antibodies that protect them from malnutrition, childhood diseases and even death. This is more so if babies are breastfed exclusively.” She urged all employers to create an enabling environment for breastfeeding mothers through the provision of day care centers and breastfeeding rooms in work places.
The initiator of the programme, Dr.Zainab Abubakar Atiku Bagudu started by giving the global statistics of Children that are affected by inadequate breastfeeding. According to her 100,000 children die annually as a result of inadequate breastfeeding by mothers, this she noted, is not to mention the huge associated economic loss of $21 billion annually. She said her efforts and that of the wife of the president, Mrs.Aishatu Buhari’s ‘Future Assured’ Programme, collaborate with Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF and that of other partners to promote this year’s new national breastfeeding initiative. Dr.Zainab announced that, the Governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu approved the setting up of breastfeeding rooms for working mothers in all ministries, departments and agencies in the state. The take-off of the breastfeeding rooms in Birnin Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital was a signal to that effect, she said.
The wife of the governor added that plans were under way to establish similar breastfeeding rooms in all the 21 local government areas of the state. She reiterated her desire for the overall heathy growth of children as leaders of tomorrow and wellbeing of women in the state. The wife of the governor made a passionate appeal to all stakeholders to join hands in the crusade for the sustenance of breastfeeding and promotion of the health of mother and child. Gifts were presented to mothers who practiced exclusive breastfeeding on their babies and recorded good baby weights as a result. The event took place at Fati Lami Women Hospital in Birnin Kebbi.
The problem of nutrition is a major issue in the world especially as it concerns infants, children and even mothers. The global acute malnutrition (GAM) prevalence for children six to nine months is put at 7.2 percent, while the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is 1.8 per cent presenting an improvement since 2014. Nigeria is among the countries that are taking steps to reduce hunger and improve nutrition in children and women. Record obtained from the Global Nutrition Report (GNR) of 2015 says Nigeria is among the countries where more than half of the children under the age of five are either stunted or wasted in growth.
In the country, malnutrition prevalence is higher in the North-west of Nigeria. When issues regarding hunger and improvement in the nutrition of children and women are not addressed, malnutrition becomes inevitable. Child malnutrition by definition and meaning refers to poor nourishment or poor feeding in type and amount of food to the child. One of the resultant effects is it makes the body weak and increases the chances of the child falling sick. It is a major problem in Nigeria and the situation is more prevalent in places like Kebbi , Katsina , Zamfara , Sokoto , and Yobe . Global acute malnutrition and severe acute malnutrition prevalence in the North-west and North-east are above 12 and 7 per cents respectively. In 2014 according to Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Kebbi State, there were 26,335 cases of severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) admitted, out of which 19,580 were cured and from January to June 2015, the cases admitted were 10,116.
It is against this background that stakeholders who have passion for the wellbeing of women and children such as WHO, UNICEF ‘Save the Children’ as well as local, national bodies and individuals have stepped up campaign to address the issue of nutrition in children. One of the best effective ways of combating malnutrition and safe guard the health of child against diseases is said to be through exclusive breastfeeding for six months to a new born baby without administering even a single drop of water or food.
Apart from the advantages on the part of the baby, the mother can also derive the advantage of getting rid of any cell in the breast that may have DNA damage as well as lower the level of some of the cancer related hormones in the mother’s body. Global statistics indicates that 100,000 children die annually as a result of inadequate breastfeeding by mothers, this is not to mention the huge economic loss, estimated at about $21 billion annually.