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‘Promoting and Protecting Breastfeeding in Nigeria: The Wellbeing Foundation Africa and cohort of Community Midwives expand philanthropic leadership through Medela Cares partnership’

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a pan-African maternal and child health organisation, established in 2004 is pleased to continue to support Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) Maternal and Child programs and goals regarding promoting and protecting Breastfeeding as the ideal first nutrition in Nigeria, as it joins the Ministry and national stakeholders in ushering in the global 2021 World Breastfeeding Week, themed: “Protecting Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.”

As part of the series of events organised by the FMoH and national stakeholders,  philanthropic leaders in maternal and neonatal health, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, in partnership with Medela Cares - the corporate social responsibility program of leading research-based breast milk feeding and baby products, and healthcare solutions provider, Medela - are set to host the joint Advocacy and Stakeholders Workshop, “Improving the use of Mother’s own milk in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)”, on the Wednesday, 4th of August, 2021.

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of childhood malnutrition and stunting, affecting early childhood development – another aggregation of the country’s low exclusive breastfeeding rate of 17%. The Wellbeing Foundation Africa has taken the bold step since 2014 to represent Nigeria in the Global Breastfeeding Initiative’s consultations, and from that point onwards birthed an intentional and deliberate community-centred frontline strategy to provide hands-on lactation education support for newly delivered women in Nigeria - an early investment that stood the test of resilience during COVID-19, and the enabler for a strong start to building back better, whether others may have floundered.

As country-partner to Medela Cares’ NICU Quality Improvement Every Woman Every Child 2020 - 2021 Commitment, the organisation will build and deliver an online quality improvement toolkit to enable scale up, monitoring and evaluation alongside train the trainers workshops, we are focusing on the most vulnerable - 871,000 premature babies born in Nigeria annually by providing dedicated support to help mothers of premature and ill neonates successfully lactate and breastfeed in Nigeria, and are pleased to be introducing NICU specific strategies to the Federal Ministry of Health during 2021 World Breastfeeding Week.

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa is committed to supporting Nigeria in key lactation specific upskilling for all professionally qualified birth attendants beyond establishing the mother-neonate latch within the first hour and day of birth reinforces health-worker recognition that:

  • The hormone oxytocin, released during breastfeeding, encourages the uterus to return to its regular size more quickly and can reduce postpartum bleeding.

  • Nipple stimulation or breastfeeding are stimuli that can lead to the secretion of oxytocin and consequent uterine contractions. Consequently, uterine contractions can reduce bleeding during the third stage of labour.

  • Colostrum is a powerful first immunotherapy, which should be carefully expressed and administered to the newborn.

WBFA is committed to up-skilling the frontline, and imparting knowledge that promotes and protects mother’s nutritional status, mental wellbeing, and lifestyle choices - before and during pregnancy. The WBFA strengthens primary health centres in Nigeria by remaining accessible - financially and geographically, thus, promoting a Continuum of Care that empowers frontliners to transition from community carers to community interlocutors.

Commenting on WBFA’s engagement in the national #WBW2021 campaign at the FMoH Ministerial Press Briefing and Launching of one of the Nutrition Division Policy Document by the Honourable Minister of Health and in Recognition of Workplace Breastfeeding Champions by the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs on Monday 2nd August, represented by Dr. Otun Adewale, WBFA National Program Coordinator, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation, Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, stated:

 “The WBFA is grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in Nigeria. The most populous sub-saharan nation. Indeed, by advocacy and programmatic actions. Through our strategic partnerships, we are able, as leaders, to pioneer, and demonstrate at scale - the impact of collaborative advocates and institutional citizens to build back a better community of practice to promote and protect the value of human milk for every woman and every child.”

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa will continue to celebrate, reinforce and replenish the power and impact of early and exclusive breastfeeding, protecting mothers own milk, within a respectful maternity care paradigm. In doing so, the WBFA has made a significant sub-saharan contribution to the global drive to minimise the existing 20,000 maternal deaths occurring each year, the 823,000 child deaths recorded across the globe, annually, and the $302 billion economic losses which have been recorded in the Lancet Journals to date.

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