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Governors’ wives, stakeholders seek 6 months maternity leave policy



Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF)

The Nigerian Governors’ Wives Forum (NGWF) and other stakeholders on Tuesday called for the implementation of six months maternity leave policy to facilitate exclusive breastfeeding of infants in the country.

Dr Olufolake Abdulrazak, wife of the Kwara state governor, representing the NGWF, stated this during the launch and press briefing ceremony in commemoration of the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week organised by the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners in Abuja.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a differenece for Working Parents.’’

Mrs Abdulrazak said the forum will partner with others to champion the advocacy, which will improve the health and wellbeing of the mother and child, as well as eliminate malnutrition in the country, thereby reducing child’s mortality rates.

She noted the challenges mothers face in navigating their work schedule and providing the best care for their children, stressing the need for implementation of policies that will ensure babies were exclusively breastfed for the first six months and complementary fed to atleast two years.


“ Breastfeeding plays an integral in the healthy development of infants and we must all come together to create an enabling environment that support and encourages this natural practice.

“In the NGWF, we are wholeheartedly dedicated to championing the cause of breastfeeding and improving the lives of women and children across our nation.

“ We are proud to announce that we have taken a significant step forward by signing a statement of commitment to provide support through effective advocacies for improved nutrition in the country.’’

While advocating for realistic budgeting, timely release of funds for nutrition, she said the NWGF was committed towards creating awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, establishment of creches in workspaces and advocating for six months paid maternity leave.

On issue of prevalence of malaria, she disclosed that Kwara state went down to 20 per cent, which was lower than the 26 per cent at the national average level.


Dr Nemat Hajeebhoy, UNICEF’s Chief Nutrition Officer, said a child’s development is not completed at birth, but rather breastmilk facilitates the completion of the development, especially the brain.

Hajeebhoy, added that the Convention on the Child Rights, stipulates their rights to access to adequate nutrition, which begins at birth within the first hour of breastfeeding, which was essential as the first immunisation.

“It is the act of breastfeeding and the breast milk that enables the growth for babies. The child’s development is not completed at birth, it is the breastmilk that helps the completion especially in and brain development.

“ So enabling mothers and babies to be together once the child is born is no longer in her womb is each of our responsibility,’’ she said.

She, explained that Nigeria had over 18 million employed women, but only nine per cent of the organisations offer breastfeeding support, hence the need for employers to implement policies that would promote breastfeeding.


“We are asking employers to offer six months maternity leave, set up safe spaces in the offices so that a mother can go and breastfeed her child and offer some flexible working arrangement.’’

Also, Dr Walter Mulombo, Country Representative, World Health Organisation (WHO) said the 2023 WBW theme aim to raise awareness and galvanize action that enable breastfeeding in the workspace.

“ Enabling breastfeeding and supporting working parents is crucial for promoting optimum breastfeeding practices and ensuring the health and wellbeing for both infants and mothers.

“Support for breastfeeding increases women’s work motivation, attendance, satisfaction and productivity.

“ It also provides vital health and nutritional benefits for children with positive lifelong impacts. Women shouldn’t be left to choose between breastfeeding their children and their jobs,’’ he said.


Dr Osita Okonkwo, Country Director, Nutrition International, said the organisation with supports from partners in 2022 distributed over 20 million vitamin A across to states and has earmarked over 22 million to improve nutrition and reduce prevalence of child and maternal mortality.

Mr Adebiyi Folorunsho, Permanent Secretary, FMoH, while highlighting the benefits of breastfeeding, said only nine per cent of organisations in the country have workplace breastfeeding policy.

Folurunsho, represented by Mrs Boladale Alonge, Director in the ministry said breastfeeding provides energy, nutrients for child’s development and prevents the burden of malnutrition infectious diseases and mortality, while also reducing the risk of obesity and chronic diseases in later life.

He added that breastfeeding mothers are also protected them from chronic diseases including breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes, as well as increase productivity at the workplace and saves monetary expenses.

“Evidence has shown that women need adequate time and support to practice optimal breastfeeding. Lack of support in the workplace is one of the reasons, why women stop breastfeeding early,’’ he said.


The representatives from the Federal Ministries of Women Affairs, Labour and Employment, Humanitarian Services, Disaster Management and Social Development, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), as well as other stakeholders were present at the event.

UNICEF said seven out of 36 states provide six months of fully paid maternity leave while only 34 per cent of children aged zero to six months are exclusively breastfed as recommended.


Diphtheria: Children at risk as 7,202 cases are confirmed in Nigeria



A staggering 7,202 cases of diphtheria, a highly contagious bacterial infection that can be fatal without treatment, were confirmed in Nigeria last week.

The outbreak has been particularly severe among children under 14, with three-quarters of cases (73.6%) in this age group.

Most cases have been recorded in Kano state, Nigeria’s second most populous state. In the past three months, there have been 453 deaths from diphtheria in Nigeria.

Diphtheria is a vaccine-preventable disease, but low vaccination rates in Nigeria have made the outbreak possible. Only 42% of children under 15 in Nigeria are fully protected from diphtheria.

Diphtheria symptoms begin with a sore throat and fever. In severe cases, the bacteria produce a toxin that can block the airway, causing difficulty breathing and swallowing. The toxin can also spread to other body parts, causing heart kidney problems and nerve damage.


Save the Children is launching a wide-scale health response in the three most impacted states of Kano, Yobe, and Katsina. The organization is deploying expert health and supply chain staff to help overstretched clinics detect and treat diphtheria cases and to support mass vaccination campaigns.

However, Save the Children warns that a mass vaccination campaign will only be successful if the vaccine shortage is urgently addressed.

Severe shortages in Nigeria of the required vaccine and the antitoxin needed to treat the disease mean that the situation could continue to escalate, placing many children at risk of severe illness and death.

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WHO releases $16m to tackle cholera, says Director-General



The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies to tackle cholera.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said this during an online news conference.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation was providing essential supplies, coordinating the on the ground response with partners, supporting countries to detect, prevent and treat cholera, and informing people how to protect themselves.

“To support this work, we have appealed for 160 million dollars, and we have released more than 16 million dollars from the WHO Contingency Fund for Emergencies.

“But the real solution to cholera lies in ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation, which is an internationally recognized human right,” he said.


According to him, in the previous week, WHO published new data showing that cases reported in 2022 were more than double those in 2021.

He said that the preliminary data for 2023 suggested was likely to be even worse.

“So far, 28 countries have reported cases in 2023 compared with 16 during the same period in 2022.

“The countries with the most concerning outbreaks right now are Ethiopia, Haiti, Iraq and Sudan.

“Significant progress has been made in countries in Southern Africa, including Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, but these countries remain at risk as the rainy season approaches,” Ghebreyesus said.


According to him, the worst affected countries and communities are poor, without access to safe drinking water or toilets.

He said that they also face shortages of oral cholera vaccine and other supplies, as well as overstretched health workers, who are dealing with multiple disease outbreaks and other health emergencies.

On COVID-19, Ghebreyesus said that as the northern hemisphere winter approaches, the organisation continued to see concerning trends.

He said that among the relatively few countries that report them, both hospitalisations and ICU admissions have increased in the past 28 days, particularly in the Americas and Europe.

WHO boss said that meanwhile, vaccination levels among the most at-risk groups remained worryingly low.


“Two-thirds of the world’s population has received a complete primary series, but only one-third has received an additional, or “booster” dose.

“COVID-19 may no longer be the acute crisis it was two years ago, but that does not mean we can ignore it,” he said.

According to him, countries invested so much in building their systems to respond to COVID-19.

He urged countries to sustain those systems, to ensure people can be protected, tested and treated for COVID-19 and other infectious threats.

“That means sustaining systems for collaborative surveillance, community protection, safe and scalable care, access to countermeasures and coordination,” he said.

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