- There are indications that the federal government will soon extend maternity leave to six months
- The minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that he has been making moves with the ministers of labour and employment to actualise the bid
- Adewole said that the leave extension will no doubt give nursing mothers more time to breastfeed their babies for their healthy growth
Professor Isaac Adewole, the minister of health, has said that there are plans at the federal level to extend maternity leave to six months.
Adewole said that he has held talks with the ministries of labour and employment along that line.The minister said this on Thursday, August 2, in Abuja at the ministerial briefing and inauguration of the 2018 World Breastfeeding Week and High Level Policy Dialogue on Breastfeeding, Punch reports.
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In his speech on the theme, ‘Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life’, Adewole said that breastfeeding is still the surest way to have a healthy baby.
He stated: “What has been shown clearly is that the brain, which we actually need to drive everything we do in life, is sorted out in the first two years. So, if you give the baby good food, good protein, we will have good workers and good leaders in the future.
“But if we don’t give them good food, then we will have a generation of jesters over the years and that is not what we want in this country. So, breastfeeding is a national investment in the cerebral architecture of our citizens and in the future development of our country.
“So, let us work together to promote it. To the men, please allow the women to give it to the babies. Don’t share or compete with the babies. Only promote it. To the women, I know you love us but don’t give it to us, give it to the babies.”
He said that the maternity leave extension would give nursing mothers more time to breastfeed their babies. The professor pointed out: “Now we have four months of maternity leave but we are working with labour to increase it to six so that there will be no excuse because if you have six months, there is no excuse.”
Zainab Ahmed, the minister of state for budget and national planning said statistics indicated that of the seven million babies born every year, less than 25 per cent were put on exclusive breast milk, adding that babies who are well breastfed hardly fall sick, while mothers have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer.
The minister said: “Health practitioners have advised us that initiating breastfeeding within the first hours of life reduces the rate of neonatal mortality by up to 22 per cent. It also reduces the risk of asthma and obesity in the babies.
“Approximately, seven million children are born in Nigeria every year and, according to the 2014 National Nutrition Survey, only 25 per cent are exclusively breastfed between the ages of zero and six months.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had urged all countries to provide fathers with legally paid paternity leave to enable them have adequate time to spend with their newborn babies.
Almost two-thirds of the world’s children under the age of one live in countries where fathers were not legally entitled to any paid paternity leave, according to a new analysis by UNICEF.
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