The Oyo State Government has commenced the capacity building of health workers to implement the baby-friendly hospital initiative.
The initiative which is an effort to reduce infant mortality will span in nine local government areas across the state.
The four-day training was organised by the Oyo State Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ARiN) project in Ibadan and concurrently taking place in Oyo and Saki towns in the next two weeks, to ensure health workers can help mothers and caregivers to establish and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
The state project coordinator of ARiN project, Dr Khadijat Alarape, speaking at its opening event in Ibadan, said that health workers are the first point of contact for mothers in pregnancy and labour.
She declared breastfeeding as a key component of quality maternal and newborn care, adding that adequate breastfeeding of babies starts when pregnant women visit the hospital for antenatal care and they are informed about the importance of breastfeeding.
Dr Alarape said the training will provide the health workers with current information about reasons for early initiation of breastfeeding within the first 30 minutes of life and disengaging from the umbilical cord, even in the case of a caesarian delivery, to make for ease of lactation.
“Now, they are to bring the baby out, immediately disengage the umbilical cord and, without cleaning, put the baby on the mother to find the breast milk.
"The odour of breast milk is similar to that of amniotic fluid. This usually makes lactation easier for the mother and the cognitive development of the child,” she said.
Dr Alarape, who puts the breastfeeding rate in Oyo State at 58.7 percent, said the target is 70 percent, adding that the state will continue to re-emphasise to healthcare workers and mothers the importance of exclusive and continued breastfeeding.
Dr Funmilayo Olisa, a nutritionist and breastfeeding master trainer, said breastfeeding alone, among all other interventions, contributes to a 16 per cent increase in child survival as well as to the reduction of maternal mortality and deaths in children below five years.
According to her, the objective of the training is to ensure the health workers have the knowledge, skills and competence to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in the facilities where they work, as well as to understand the steps to successful breastfeeding.