The Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Dr. Jide Idris has urged nursing and expectant mothers in Lagos State to embrace exclusive breastfeeding, saying giving babies water before the age of six months hinders absorption of breast milk nutrients and exposes them to the risk of diarrhoea and other infections. He made the call on Monday during the launch of the first Multimedia Campaign To Improve Infants and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in Lagos State. The campaign with the theme: ‘Start Strong,’, was championed by the Lagos State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) and the State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan and supported by Alive & Thrive FHI360 Project, with funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Idris said the unique initiative would catalyse behaviour change towards improving IYCF indices in Lagos State. He said, “Exclusive breast feeding means a baby receives only breast milk; no water, no infant formula and no other liquid or food.” According to him, breast milk contains all the water and nutrients a baby needs during the first six months of life even in hot and dry climates. In addition, he said families, policy makers, community and religious leaders, media programme managers and health workers could play critical roles in ensuring that infants were not offered water before six months. Idris explained that the focus of the campaign was on nutrition and the campaign was geared to promote and support exclusive breast feeding for infant 0 – six months. Available data indicates that malnutrition accounts for more than 50 per cent of under – five mortality in the state. The commissioner for health in Lagos said mmalnutrition accounts for over 50 per cent of under – five mortality in the state, saying the increased uptake of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life for infants, was one of the most cost-effective intervention for preventing child deaths occasioned by malnutrition.
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