The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says only nine percent of organisations in Nigeria have a workplace breastfeeding policy, with only 1.5 per cent in the public sector.
UNICEF Nigeria Country Representative, Cristian Munduate, said this yesterday in her statement to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
According to her, women make up 20 million of the 46 million workforce in Nigeria, with 95 percent in the informal sector and five percent in the formal sector.
She said women in the informal sector had nearly no support for breastfeeding.
She said though Nigeria had made significant strides in the past two decades to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, more needed to be done.
She said only seven states provided six months fully paid maternity leave, adding that only 34 percent of children aged 0 to 6 months were exclusively breastfed as recommended by UNICEF.
She said Nigeria was still far from reaching the World Health Assembly’s 70 percent target by 2030.
She urged the federal and state governments, and employers to take decisive actions to ensure a supportive breastfeeding environment for all working mothers, including those in the formal and informal sector.
Munduate said global analysis revealed that elevating rates of exclusive breastfeeding could save the lives of an astounding 820,000 children under the age of five annually, generating an additional income of $302bn.
She said improved breastfeeding practices could save over 100,000 children’s lives in Nigeria each year, save $22m in health care treatment costs related to inadequate breastfeeding and generate additional $21bn for the economy over children’s productive years by increasing cognitive capacity and preventing premature mortality in the early years.