The Chairman, Nigerian Senate Committee on Health, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, disclosed that the 6 months maternity leave bill is currently before the Senate Committee on Health. According to him, this is part of a larger plan to encourage/incorporate exclusive breastfeeding and create an enabling environment for exclusive breastfeeding and child nutrition in the country.
After it is approved, the bill will be incorporated into the National Health Insurance Authority Bill which has passed its third reading on the floor of the Senate. The bill is currently before the House of Representatives.
Speaking during a Webinar hosted by the Save the Children International, Oloriegbe maintained that the bill would drive innovative approaches to breastfeeding in Nigeria. And if it is assented to by the President, it would go a long way towards improving child nutrition in the country.
Oloriegbe added that the promotion of breastfeeding is an investment in human capital and the health of the planet. He stressed the need for a concerted effort by the government, health care providers, religious and traditional institutions, civil societies, and the academia to promote and support breastfeeding.
Why this matters
The bill, as explained by Oloriegbe, will encourage and support “working-class women to stay at home and exclusively breastfeed their children for the first 6months of life and till the child clock 2years”.
Employers will now also be mandated by the bill to allow nursing mothers a 6-month maternity leave and provide for breastfeeding break and space in workplaces. They will also adopt policies that would encourage working mothers to give their children the needed nutrition despite work demands.
“It will also provide for the prioritization of breastfeeding mothers and children at health facilities and other public service delivery point and provide activity support education in nutrition for breastfeeding mothers including their support,” Oloriegbe explained.
Save the Children’s Programme Development and Quality Director, Shannon Ward, stated in her presentation that despite the sensitizations on benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to babies health and growth, only one-third of children in Nigeria enjoy exclusive breastfeeding.
Note that the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week is currently ongoing. It started on August 1st and will last till August 7th. This year’s theme is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”.
World Breastfeeding Week is an annual event that is held in the first week of August. This year’s event is being held virtually across the world due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
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As NPHCDA connects with the world to celebrate this week, we are re-orientating health workers on their role & sensitizing communities on the benefits of breastfeeding. You also have a role to play; support & encourage mothers to breastfeed ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.
— NPHCDA (@NphcdaNG) August 3, 2020