By Philip Yatai
Abuja – An NGO, Alive and Thrive (FHI360), on Wednesday urged Nasarawa, Niger and other states, to emulate Kaduna State and extend maternity leave for working mothers to six months.
The NGO’s Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Mrs Tonyi Gabriel, made the call at a two-day Health and Nutrition Budget Meeting with key stakeholders from Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states.
The meeting with participants from nutrition line ministries, departments and agencies, including lawmakers, was organised to push for improved nutrition funding.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Kaduna State Government had in a circular, dated Aug. 14, directed full implementation of the six months maternity leave promised to working mothers.
Gabriel described the development as very laudable, particularly in promoting exclusive breastfeeding practices among working mothers, which would lead to huge returns in human capital development.
“We are passionate in promoting exclusive breastfeeding because of its significance in the development of children’s brain and preventing malnutrition.
“Lagos and Kaduna states have done the needful by recognising the need to promote exclusive breastfeeding. This is a milestone in improving nutrition status of infants.
“Other states need to key-in for effective fight against malnutrition because breast milk contains all the nutrition required for healthy growth and development of an infant.
“The six months will provide the time needed by working mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding as a critical component of infants and young child feeding,” she said.
Gabriel assured the states of nutrition partners’ readiness to provide the needed support to push for extension, as well as awareness among beneficiaries, to make the best use of the time.
Mrs Beatrice Aluaka, Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), had explained that the meeting was organised to look at the progress; challenges and the need for improved nutrition funding.
NAN reports that the meeting was organised by Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Alive and Thrive (FHI360) and Save the Children International (SCI).