Paul Orude, Bauchi
As parts of its commitment to eliminate malnutrition, the Bauchi State Government has approved the release of N103 million as counterpart fund to the UNICEF to treat 11, 517 severe malnourished children in the state.
This was disclosed by the Executive Chairman of the Bauchi State Primary Health Development Agency (BSPHCDA), Pharmacy Adamu Ibrahim Gamawa, on Tuesday, at the launch of World Breastfeeding Week held at Urban Maternity, Bauchi.
Gamawa said the fund would cover the cost of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Foods and prevent 2, 188 deaths among children in the state.
He said that in order to make sure that breastfeeding is protected and promoted in the state, a strong partnership is needed between government, non-governmental organisations and other Community Based Organisations.
He also called for partnership between local authorities, health practitioners and communities, saying “everyone has a role to play and together we can make sure we create we create the utmost protective and supportive environment for exclusive breastfeeding.”
Gamawa expressed appreciation to the Governor Mohammed Abubakar-led administration in the state for prioritising Maternal, Newborn and Child Health services in its Five Point Agenda as important public health intervention.
“We are also grateful for the support of WHO, UNICEF, and other development partners for the promotion of nutrition services especially exclusive breastfeeding and other nutrition programmes.”
In her remark, wife of the Bauchi State Governor, Hajia Hadiza Mohammed Abubakar, enjoined women in the state to adopt exclusive breastfeeding saying that the benefits are numerous.
She said: “I want to re-emphasise that, mothers should take it as a matter of necessity to be giving their babies breast milk in the first six months of life without any other liquids or solid, not even water , with the exception of oral rehydration solution, drops and syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.
“When babies are exclusively breastfed, their immune system is strengthened protecting them from life threatening illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea amongst other infections.
“It reduces the risk of illnesses, it promotes better brain and nervous system development and it provides a unique mix of nutrients and antibodies necessary for each baby to survive,” she said.
Mrs. Abubakar noted that breast milk alone is not sufficient to meet the nutritional needs requirements of infant for six months, other foods and liquids are needed, along with breast milk.
“These complementary feeding are needed to provide energy and essential nutrients required for continued growth and development.”
In a goodwill message, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Selamawit Negash, Bauchi Office, commended the state government for putting nutrition as a priority in its health agenda.
Negash said that the future of any country depends on how the babies are taken care of, pointing out that any country that take care of its newborn and child to reach their potentials, such country will develop.