Aggressive infant formula marketing strategy, tradition, bane of exclusive breastfeeding – Wellbeing Foundation

Alive & Thrive project of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, has listed aggressive marketing strategy employed by sellers of infant formulas and tradition as some of the top reasons mothers in Nigeria do not stick to exclusive breastfeeding.

Monitoring and Evaluation Manager for the project, Mr. Ejike Uduije, disclosed this when the foundation hosted about 60 healthcare workers at a transition event of the Alive and Thrive Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF programme to Lagos State government recently.

Speaking on the challenges of the project that kick-started 2017, Uduije said some mothers were made to believe that their breast milk has the same content with infant formulas and  that they can choose to breastfeed or buy infant formula.

He said: “Our second challenge was continuity on the aspect of private and government sectors. Throughout the duration of the programme, we were building the capacity of staffs due to change of staff,” Uduije explained.

Speaking on the transition programme, Uduije said: “The Alive and Thrive Infant and Young Child Feeding programme which was scaled in 2018 has successfully reached over 200,000 antenatal care attendees, 120,000 mothers of children less than two years and 15,000 family members with an increased counselling content of facility healthcare workers in Infant and Young Child Feeding.

“These health workers represented partnering health facilities that performed outstandingly during the programme which was carried out in over 500 private healthcare facilities in Lagos State by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

“This IYCF transition event was organised to help health workers from these partnering facilities share achievements and successes that have been recorded throughout the course of this programme” Uduije said.

Also speaking, the programme Project Manager, Tilewa Denloye, said:”One of the things we noticed during the programme was that tradition and culture played a very big impact in young mothers.

“The older generations could and sometimes negatively pass on incorrect information to the young mothers. And the young mothers take these because of the respect.

“So, we had to invite these influencers like mother in-laws, mothers, grandmothers and fathers to antenatal care, ANC sections,” she said.

In her remarks, the State Coordinator for the FHI360, Dr.Uche Ralph-Opara, commented: “I will like to commend you all for the effort and service rendered in assisting mothers breastfeed properly, especially with the early initiation to breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.

“I encourage you all to sustain the progress achieved and engage with key stakeholders within the family, to strengthen the support system needed by mothers to breastfeed. You are all breastfeeding champions, and we are grateful for your support.”

In appreciation, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and FHI360 Alive and Thrive Team presented the healthcare facilities with state-of-the-art breastfeeding simulators to aid the education of mothers on proper breastfeeding.

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