This World Breastfeeding Week reminds us of the quote that “It takes a village to raise a child”. We all have a role to play in making a difference for our communities in education, promoting healthy environments and transformation of existing systems, underpinned by evidence-based policies to create breastfeeding-friendly facilities, supportive communities and workplaces for working parents.
At Society for Family Health, we have over the years implemented interventions that make a difference for our communities and working parents. We are currently implementing numerous interventions that promote healthy nutrition services and creating friendly breastfeeding facilities for our communities including the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project in Kaduna state which delivers Basic Package of Nutrition Services (BPNS) and Adolescent Health Services (AHS). We’re also implementing a HeRoN project in Borno and Yobe State which focuses promoting nutrition services and quality PHC services for women, girls, and other marginalized groups in target communities. So far in these two projects, we have provided over a million contacts/services to pregnant and lactating women.
It is no doubt that breastfeeding is important both to the mother and the child, a practice that all fathers and family members should support without fail. Providing an equitable environment and response that enables a healthy working environment is non-negotiable, as is funding for universal health coverage. To achieve equitable work environments and fair nutritional opportunities for infants of working mothers, interventions should focus to promote breastfeeding through strengthened community supports and supportive environments. Its vision is that all people feel supported by their community to breastfeed and that communities encourage and enable women to breastfeed without fear of stigmatization. This includes communities that provide facilities and policies that are informed to family needs. This, among other things, may take the shape of adequate change care facilities in shopping centres, breastfeeding friendly workplaces, businesses that display Breastfeeding Welcome Here signage and a general attitude of respect and courtesy shown to women when breastfeeding at home or participating in community life.
Therefore, at this World Breastfeeding Week, we are advocating that governments and businesses invest in education and redesign workplaces to have creche, work breaks for breastfeeding or expression of breast milk for babies and support family-friendly policies that ensure adequate duration for both maternity and paternity leave to support lactating mothers. Close communication is needed between different actors in the health system and the community to ensure continuity and consistency in breastfeeding counselling at this critical time. Ensuring that parents make unbiased informed decisions will make a difference for working parents and all people for them to live longer and healthier lives. But we still have miles to go. We have promises to keep.
Together, we need to step up breastfeeding through education and support a healthy workplace! Let’s step up for breastfeeding!