MARCH Health Care Initiative (MHI), a Non-Governmental Organisation, says it plans to make the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) a model for breastfeeding aimed at ending maternal and newborn mortality.
Mrs Olubunmi Aiyedun, President, Maternal Adolescent and Reproductive Child Healthcare Initiative (MARCH Healthcare Initiative) said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Sunday, in Abuja.
According to her, maternal and newborn health has become paramount which has led counties globally to adopt nutrition as one of the solutions in ending maternal and newborn child health mortality.
Aiyedun explained that the organisation has commenced a project called STRAP MAN project, an intervention which stands for sustaining, teaching, advocacy, research for breastfeeding practices and maternal nutrition.
“This is the first intervention we are embarking on since its inception about two years, with an intention to make FCT a model for breastfeeding that would spur other states to emulate.
“We know that when nutrition is gotten right especially among newborn and under-five then basically more than 50 per cent of disease burden would be taken away.
“Because if a child has malaria or pneumonia, the respond of a child that is well and adequately nourished will differ from the response of a child that is malnourished,’’ she explained.
Aiyedun said as an organisation which is health-focused, they have realised that there are gaps between the health clinician, health institutions, the communities and available policies.
She noted that the FCT has all the key stakeholders in the health sector, which cuts across the six area councils, ranging from primary health care, secondary health facilities then to tertiary health facilities.
Aiyedun said that there are also colleges of nursing and midwifery which produces more than 100 nurses, midwives and healthcare professionals are situated in the FCT area councils.
She further added that the FCT, where lawmakers, ministers, senators are all based was yet to promote optimally early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for children.
“Currently in the FCT early initiation of breastfeeding stands at 29 per cent and exclusive breastfeeding stands at 52 per cent.
“However the FCT government is looking at extending it to 100 per cent in the next two years with zero water campaign.
“In collaboration to that, the STRAPMAN project would help strengthen health facilities by building the capacity of healthcare professionals, and students of health institutions,’’ she said.
Aiyedun said the project was also aimed at ensuring health facilities promote, support and protect the nutritional value of the mothers and children as well as developing the right attitude and interpersonal communication.
She said the capacity building would equip health professionals and the students with the knowledge and skills to support early initiation of breastfeeding within the first 30 minutes to one hour after delivery.
Others include exclusive breastfeeding for six months and complementary breastfeeding for at least two years, also to ensure crèches are available in all government and private organisations.
Also ensuring job aids such as maniques, mama breast, are available for demonstration during training as well as counselling rooms and breast examination done during anti-natal clinics.
Aiyedun, however, stated that if these gaps are bridged, FCT would be a model for breastfeeding in the country and would go a long way in promoting nutrition for under five.