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With 29%, Nigeria Still Behind In Exclusive Breastfeeding

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By Ijeoma Ukazu |

Indicators has pointed in a new report, the National Demographic Health Survey, (NDHS) 2018 that despite the attainment of 29 percent on Exclusive Breastfeeding, Nigeria is still lagging behind from the global target of 50 percent.

The 12 percent incriment which was attained between 2013 to 2018, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Maureen Zubie-Okolo said though it is an achievement but more is required.

Zubie-Okolo unvailed this at a two-day workshop on Data Driven Reporting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, at an event organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau and the Federal Ministry of Information reiterating that, “Exclusive Breastfeeding among children age zero to six months has increased since 2013, from 17 percent to 29 percent.”

She however added that the percentage of children who had ever been breastfed was 97 percent in both 2008 and 2018.

She also said, “the percentage of children who started breastfeeding within one hour of birth has increased by nine percentage points since 2013, from 33 percent to 42 percent, while the percentage who started breastfeeding within first day of birth has increased from 65 percent to 82 percent since 2008.”

Explaining, the UNICEF Specialist said, “breast milk contains all of the nutrients needed by children during the first six months of life, adding that it is recommended that children be exclusively breastfed in the first six months of their life; that is, they should be given nothing but breast milk.”

She pointed that exclusive breastfeeding prevents infections such as diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses and provides all of the nutrients an infant requires for optimal growth and development.

On infant mortality, Zubie-Okolo added that the NDHS points that Nigeria still parades an unenviable rate of 67 deaths per 1,000 live births.

She said while the infant mortality reduced from 75 percent deaths per 1000 live births to 67 deaths per 1000 live births, the number of neonatal deaths remained unchanged, meaning that there is a probability of a Nigerian newborn dying before the first birthday.

According to her, the 2018 NDHS revealed that under five mortality was 132 deaths per 1,000 live births, implying that more than one in 8 children in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday.

She also noted that the survey showed that under-5 mortality rate decreased since 2008, from 157 deaths per 1,000 live births to 132 deaths per 1,000 live births which is still high.

Similarly, she said, “there has been a slight reduction in infant mortality, from 75 to 67 deaths per 1,000 live births from 2008 to 2018. However, there has been no noticeable change in the neonatal mortality rate over the same period.”

The report also notes that childhood mortality in Nigeria remains high and that every year, an estimated one million Nigerian children die before their fifth birthday.

The report also showed that Nigeria is one of five countries in the world with the highest number of under-five deaths.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Olumide Osanyinpeju, Deputy Director/Head, Child Rights Information Bureau who represented the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said “both Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) and Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) are survey initiatives designed to assist countries, Nigeria inclusive, in filling data gaps for monitoring human development in general and the situation of children and women in particular.

“These surveys have been instrumental in strengthening national statistics capacities, highlighting and filling gaps in quality data, monitoring and tracking progress toward national and international development goals like the SDGs and, in identifying emerging issues and disparities among groups in societies.

“As journalists, you can use the medium at your disposal to increase people’s knowledge on understanding data; Interpreting data and their uses; how data is derived; from numbers to words; deriving stories from data and of course, UNICEF’s role in data generation in Nigeria.”

He however urged the media to generate human interest stories for publication, evidenced based stories, engage in media advocacy, story reports and programmes on improvement of the situation and well being of children as well as women.

Highlighting the objective and expected outcomes of the event earlier, the Communication Specialist, UNICEF, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku stated thus: understanding the data/solution journalism is key, where do Nigeria stand ten year to the end of SDGs, telling stories through multiple platform, what does the DHS tell us?

Also stating the expected outcomes, Njoku said they include: public advocacy for the achievement of the SDGs, emergence of data driven stories and the use of multiple platforms for the stories.

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