Health experts have warned that there is a huge economic cost to not exclusively breastfeeding babies for the first six months of their lives. According to the experts at an event in Abuja on Tuesday, inadequate breastfeeding costs the Nigerian economy an estimated $ 21 billion per year, or 4. 1 percent of the nation’s gross national income. The event was organised by the Nigerian Ministry of Health in collaboration with its nutrition and health sector partners to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week, which is celebrated every August 1 to 7. The experts explained that women lose more financially, directly and indirectly by not exclusively breastfeeding their babies and saving them from malnutrition, diseases and death on the long run.
The theme for this year’s breastfeeding week, “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together,” was used to mobilise advocates, activists, decision makers, media and young people for long term partnership in protecting, promoting and supporting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life without water. Hajo Sani, representative of the wife of the Nigerian President, Aisha Buhari, said low awareness, poor living and working conditions, poor health and wrong perception of breastfeeding has been hindering more people from embracing the culture. Ms. Sani urged government and employers in Nigeria to create breastfeeding rooms, arena and flexible working hours to assist mothers achieve exclusive six months breastfeeding. She also called on the government to formulate and implement policies that will enable mothers achieve the feat.