An NGO, Alive and Thrive, has said that promoting optimal breastfeeding remains a proven and affordable means of supporting national and global health targets.
Gabriel said building an enabling environment to support breastfeeding was key to reaching the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (NSPAN).
“Breastfeeding has proven benefits for women and children, 25 per cent of infants under-six months in Nigeria are exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.
“Only one in three children initiates breastfeeding within the first four hours after birth.
Gabriel said breastfeeding had implications not only for children’s health, but for Nigeria’s economy.
She said that low breastfeeding could lead to poor brain development at individual level, adding “it also reduces learning ability, productivity and lifetime earnings”.
“Globally breastfeeding is capable of preventing 72 per cent of hospital admissions for diarrhoea and 57 per cent of respiratory infections.
“Researches show that infants under-six who are not breastfed are three to four times more likely to die than those who receive any breast milk.
“Nearly half of all diarrhoea episodes and one third of all respiratory infections can be prevented with increased breastfeeding,” she said.
Gabriel said that many countries had utilised the benefits of breastfeeding to advance their national development efforts, saying “an investment in breastfeeding in Nigeria is an investment in health and wealth”.