International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Global Goodwill Ambassador and the Founder-President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), Her Excellency, Mrs Toyin Saraki, welcomes the Abuja Declaration of Protection, Promotion and Support for Breastfeeding (‘the Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration’), as led by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) of Nigeria, Save the Children, and other development partners at the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Promoting Breastfeeding for National Development in Nigeria.
In concerted action led by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health, initiated by Save the Children, for whom Mrs Saraki has served as Nigeria Newborn Champion since 2014, stakeholders including Alive & Thrive, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation, the Department for International Development (DfID), the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), and several others have energised efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a newborn’s life to radically improve national development and progress in Nigeria.
Since the National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Nigeria was introduced in 2005, there has been documented progress in individual states in Nigeria, as a affirmative policy of the Federal Government’s commitment to optimal feeding of all children from birth, as a public health measure towards the implementation of the global strategy for infant and young child feeding and nutrition for improved child survival.
Progress has been undeniably linked to states that have strong midwifery frameworks such as Ondo and Kwara States. Ondo State has developed the Ondo State Abiye Maternal and Newborn Health Program, which has received USAID mPowering Frontline Health Workers’ support in upgrading the skills of over 200 midwives in antenatal and postnatal practices.
In Kwara State, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa has also successfully developed its own local initiative, the Kwara State Emergency Obstetrics and Newborn Care (EMONC) programme, supported by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicineand Hygeine, as funded by Johnson & Johnson.
This on-going skills-building and training program is targeted at improving the availability and quality of Maternal and Newborn Care in the State. The first phase of this project lasted 18 months (from 2015 into 2016), covered nine healthcare facilities and a School of Nursing/Midwifery across 3 local government areas in Kwara State, and trained 96 healthcare workers (including 40 midwives and nurses), 19 Trainers, 8 course directors and 10 continuous medical education (CME) directors. These healthcare workers have since cascaded to train over 600 healthcare workers, using a training-of-trainers model that is continuing sustainably.
In 2016, The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) has also conducted Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) training for 371 midwives and student-midwives, from the 36 States of the Federation at Nigeria’s firstGlobalMidwifery Conference, hosted by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa in collaboration with the Nigeria Association of Nurses and Nurse Midwives NANNMS and UNFPA to mark the International Day of the Midwife, on 5th May. Attending midwives and student-midwives were trained in antenatal, postnatal, BFI, health-enhanced civil data and vital registrations, and EmONC skills and drills.
During World Breastfeeding Week 2016, the Foundation’s MaternalMonday media platform has continued to promote the importance of the 10 Steps To Successful Breastfeeding Campaign across Nigeria through “MamaCare Pregnancy Schools” antenatal and postnatal classes – Nigeria’s first civil society health visitor program providing over 2500 midwives, mothers and newborns each month, with enhanced engagement and continuum of care and counsel, at participating health facilities in Lagos State, Kwara State, and Federal Capital Territory Abuja, currently.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa hopes that this heightened advocacy and action focus will improve the treatment and quality of care that Nigerian mothers receive, and break the cycle of poverty.Also, in line with the Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration’s vision, the Foundation calls on all key policy and healthcare professionals in Nigeria to increase efforts at improving breastfeeding rates, in order to greatly reduce child mortality and to attain a healthier nation, through the improved social and economic benefits of early and exclusive breastfeeding.