Nursing Mothers Breastfeeding Babies

Group Advocates Six Months Maternity Leave

Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, has canvassed for extension of maternity leave from three to six months in Gombe State.

According to CS-SUNN Project officer, Dare Oguntade, the extension would reduce malnutrition in under five children.

The project officer also said six months maternity leave would also encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies exclusively without challenges.

He disclosed that the idea was for the mothers to willingly breastfeed for additional three months while receiving salary.

According to him, this would curb neonatal related death, increase investment as resources usually budgeted for procurement of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food for the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition would be channeled to other sectors.

Oguntade made this disclosure in an interview with our correspondent during a two-day capacity building workshop on advocacy strategy and budget tracking held for civil society organisations.

Our correspondent reports that the one year collaboration between CS-SUNN and UNICEF has been implemented in 19 states with Gombe State inclusive.

He said, “Exclusive breastfeeding has a lot of importance in human capital development, talking about the first 1000 days of life.

“The role of the media is also to spread the information for positive behavioural change especially towards improved exclusive breastfeeding. If the government extends from three to six months, women will practice it, not just for extension’s sake but to improve the practice of exclusive breastfeeding.

“Stakeholders are to identify those that can help them achieve the legislation of the six months paid maternity leave. I will be working with the media. The ultimate aim is to see there is improved nutritional outcome in Gombe State and in Nigeria as a whole.

“I will call on everyone to come and join hands to see that we actually improve nutrition in Gombe and Nigeria as a whole. I call on the government to see reasons to extend maternity leave to six months for the benefit of the children and women in the state.”

Speaking further Oguntade called for the utilisation of nutrition funding in the state adding that it would ensure development for the good of all.

We are working with the Civil Society Organisations, with the government and with the media and with every other partner that is pro nutrition to advocate especially for improved funding with special focus, not just on allocation but releases and effective utilisation.

“The training has a goal of improving investment in nutrition is a partnership project between UNICEF and CS-SUNN that will last for one year, from October 2023 to October 2024 the goal is to improve investment for nutrition services in the state,” Oguntade added.