NGO urges Gombe govt. to extend maternity leave for working mothers.
The Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has urged Gombe State Government to extend maternity leave for working mothers to six months to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.
Mr Ambrose Evhoesor, Project Officer, CS-SUNN made the call in Gombe on Friday at the closing of a four-day capacity building for stakeholders on breast milk substitutes, right to food, maternity protection and food fortification.
Our correspondent reports that the stakeholders were drawn from civil society organisations, community-based organisations and the media.
According to Evhoesor, the three months’ maternity leave being observed in the state is not enough for working mothers especially with the message of exclusive breastfeeding of babies for six months.
He said in many organisations and establishments, “there are no crèches for working mothers to provide proper care for babies and this has multiple effects on the six months exclusive breastfeeding advocacy that we are emphasising.”
Evhoesor stated that as much as the state government is working to address issues of malnutrition, other areas must also be looked at to ensure that the fight against malnutrition is holistic.
He said states like Lagos, Oyo and Kaduna who adopted the six months’ maternity, has made it possible to ensure maternity protection in those states should be emulated by the other state government.
Evhoesor said that available statistics revealed that 25 per cent of mothers in the country practice the six-month exclusive breastfeeding, stressing that all stakeholders must encourage exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
Mrs Comfort Mukollo, CS-SUNN Coalition, commended CS-SUNN for organising such training for stakeholders adding that the impact of the exercise would help media, CSOs and CBOs pass the right message to mothers.
Mukollo advised mothers against complementary feeding within the first six months of giving birth, adding that, “we must jettison the myth that giving babies complementary foods within the first six month helps babies.”
She stated that breast milk substitution should be practised after six months of exclusively breasting babies and when practising substitution, nutrition consideration should be prioritised.
A participant, Mrs Bolanle Elizabeth, Programme Officer, Needy’s Helping Hand and Support Initiative (NHHSI), said the training would provide guiding principles for stakeholders in efforts to address issues of malnutrition amongst children.
Elizabeth appealed to mothers to leverage on locally sourced foods to provide nutritional balance for their children, stressing, “we don’t need to be very rich to practice good nutrition.”