Hajiya Hadiza Umar Namadi, the wife of the governor of Jigawa State, has called on the state government to provide new moms six months of paid vacation and new fathers two weeks off.
On Wednesday, at a celebration of world breastfeeding week in the state, Mrs. Namadi issued her call.
She argued that stronger support for exclusive breastfeeding from policymakers was necessary to improve outcomes for newborns.
She claims that “As you know, scientific evidence recommends giving babies under six months only breast milk and on-demand (day and night)” for optimal health.
Breast milk contains all the fluids and nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth, so nothing more should be given to a newborn for the first six months of life, even in hot and arid conditions.
She went on to say that research has shown that infants who are given anything other breast milk in the first six months of life are more likely to develop respiratory infections and diarrhoea.
Mrs. Namadi recognized some of the barriers to breastfeeding in the state, including a lack of understanding about the benefits of breast milk, moms returning to work too soon after giving birth, and a lack of a welcoming environment for breastfeeding.
To counteract this, she advocated for six months of maternity leave for mothers and two weeks of paternity leave for fathers, as well as the creation of breastfeeding-friendly locations in both public and private institutions.
According to Dr. Kabiru Ibrahim, the state’s Commissioner for Health and the Permanent Secretary of the State Primary Health Development Agency, just 20% of mothers in the state exclusively breastfeed their infants.
Only 20% of mothers in the state report using only breast milk for their infants.
The government of Jigawa State is dedicated to increasing the number of women who breastfeed exclusively by creating an environment that encourages this practice.
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is focused on encouraging breastfeeding as a way to help working parents.