Maximising the benefits of breastfeeding during COVID-19 pandemic




L- R – Minister of State for Health , Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora,  Minister of Health , Dr Osagie Ehanire and Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen during the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week Ministerial Press Briefing  in Abuja.

Maximising the benefits of breastfeeding during COVID-19 pandemic

, News Agency of Nigeria

Over the years, Nigeria has joined more than 170 countries to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week to create awareness and to generate support for improved feeding of newborn babies.

The week is aimed at creating awareness and support to improve breastfeeding practices for good health and wellbeing outcomes in infants, young children and mothers.

The 2020 celebration of the World Breastfeeding Week is particularly challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which, among others, challenged the safety of breast milk during the pandemic.

However, to create awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding during the pandemic, the Federal Ministry of Health organised a long week event from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 on breastfeeding.

At a news conference organised as part of activities to mark the week, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi, said that the advent of COVID-19 had further altered the dynamics of optimal breastfeeding through its secondary effect on household livelihood, fear of viral transmission during breastfeeding and undue exploitation by producers and marketers of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMs).

Abdullahi said “we do not want women to think that BMs are better than breastmilk.

“We are, therefore, using innovative means during the 2020 celebration due to social and physical gathering restrictions from COVID-19 pandemic to inform all that breastmilk is comparable to none other BMs.”

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said that an estimated 20,000 maternal deaths could be prevented annually if optimal breastfeeding was practiced in the country.

The minister said that the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child were enormous, saying: “it makes immunity of babies stronger.

“It will reduce the risk of suffering in many childhood illnesses and infections, it is naturally environment-friendly since it does not draw on any resources or create environmental pollution.

“Its long-term health benefits include reduced risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence, with studies showing that obesity rates are 15-30 per cent lower in breastfed babies compared with formula-fed babies.

“It also provides health benefits to mothers, by helping to prevent postpartum bleeding, support child spacing, lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers and earlier return to pre-pregnancy body weight.”

Ehanire, however, said that in spite of the benefits, the breastfeeding indices in Nigeria were below optimal.

He said “according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2018, conducted by National Population Commission (NPC), 97 per cent of children are breastfed at one point or the other, but only 42 per cent are put to breast within one hour of birth.

“And the proportion of children 0 to 6 months who are exclusively breastfed is a mere 29 per cent.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a series of the Lancet publications on breastfeeding, reports that scaling up breastfeeding practices to almost universal level can prevent an estimated 823,000 annual deaths.

“It could also prevent 13.8 per cent of all deaths of children younger than 24 months.”

He said the Federal Ministry of Health recommended early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

Ehanire said that the ministry recommended continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond and introduction of appropriate complementary foods as from six months.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, said that the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week highlighted the links between breastfeeding and planetary health.

The theme of the 2020 celebration is “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”.

The minister added that the theme was aimed at informing people about the links between breastfeeding and the environment; it anchors breastfeeding as a climate-smart decision, engages individuals and organisations for greater impact.

Mamora said the theme galvanises action for improved breastfeeding practices.

He reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the 1990 Innocenti Declaration which enjoins all nations to protect, promote and support mothers to optimally breastfeed our infants and young children.

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, said that commemorating the week, which dated back to 1992, coincided with the peak of advocacy around women issues and concerns during the Better Life for Rural Women Programme.

She said it was a reinforcement of the need for proper bonding between mother and child, from birth to six months exclusively before the gradual introduction of water and other forms of complementary feeding.

The Country Representative of UNICEF, Peter Hawkins in a goodwill message, said that almost 97 per cent of children in Nigeria were breastfed at some point but more was needed to be done when it comes to early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding to meet global targets.

Hawkins said “exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria has recorded minimal improvement over the years; 25 per cent in 2014, down to 23.7 per cent in 2016/17, and up again to 29 per cent in 2018.

“The global target is to increase exclusive breastfeeding rate in the first six months of life to at least 50 per cent by 2025.”

He further stated that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted optimal breastfeeding practices through its effects on household incomes and perception about its safety for both mothers and children.

He, however, added that there was no evidence that transmission of the virus could occur through breast milk.

According to him, the World Health Organisation recommends that all mothers – including those with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, be encouraged to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies, while observing all necessary safety and hygiene precautions.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus in his speech to mark the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week, emphasised the importance of the natural act of feeding babies, saying that mothers with COVID-19 should continue to breastfeed their babies.

He said “as we have seen again and again, standard public health measures are often the most effective and we are reiterating the importance of breastfeeding, which has lifesaving benefits for babies and families.

“At the time of COVID-19, especially when there is disruption to health services, WHO recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged, the same as all other mothers, to initiate or continue to breastfeed.

“Mothers should be counselled about the many benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies and children, which substantially outweigh the potential risks for COVID-19 infection.

“Mothers and infants should be helped to remain together while rooming-in throughout the day and night and to practice skin-to-skin contact.

“They should remain together to practice skin-to-skin contact including kangaroo mothercare, especially after birth and during establishment of breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected or confirmed COVID-19,’’ he said.

Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a period to continue to promote breastfeeding as WHO has established that COVID-19 virus has not been detected in breastmilk, he added.

He emphasised that the pandemic period was a time to call for stakeholders’ support to do more to promote the benefits of breastfeeding, as it reduces infant mortality and provides numerous lifelong health advantages, among others. (NANFeatures)

*If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria


E! hosts skip Emmys red carpet after testing positive for COVID-19



The E! “Live From the Red Carpet” preshow for the Emmy Awards is missing a couple of key players this year.

During Sunday’s broadcast, Giuliana Rancic and Vivica A. Fox – who were expected to host a portion of E!’s 2020 red-carpet coverage – both announced that they tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore could not emcee the show as planned.

“As I go into my 20th year on the E! red carpet, I have to say I do not take missing an award show lightly.

“But unfortunately, this year is just so different. As part of E! and NBCUniversal’s very strict testing guidelines – especially before an event like this – I did find out that I tested positive for COVID-19.

“As much as I didn’t want to hear that, I’m very thankful I heard it before I traveled and possibly could have exposed other people. As far as my health, I’m doing well,” Rancic said via video chat.

Rancic added that her husband and son also tested positive for the respiratory illness and are “taking care of each other” in quarantine.

“I’m wishing you all the best,” she continued from home, adding:  “Please protect yourselves and protect those around you. Take good care, and I’ll see you on the next red carpet.”

Later, E! hosts Brad Goreski and Nina Parker shared a statement from Fox explaining her own absence.

“I’m terribly sorry I cannot be with my E! family tonight,” the message read.

“Unfortunately I have tested positive for (COVID-19), so in an abundance of caution, I’ve isolated myself at home.

“During these unprecedented times, it’s more important than ever that we follow all safety and health rules and guidelines to protect ourselves and each other. … I look forward to seeing everyone again soon.”

Parker and Goreski – who were originally slated to host the E! “Countdown to the Red Carpet” from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Eastern before passing the baton to Rancic and Fox – simply extended their hosting duties to the “Live From the Red Carpet” telecast.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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NCDC records 97 new COVID-19 infections, total cases now 57, 242



The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded  97 new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in the country, bringing the total confirmed cases to 57, 242 nationwide.

The NCDC disclosed this on its official twitter handle on Sunday .

It added that three persons died of COVID-19 complications while 138 patients, who recovered at various isolation centres across the country the same day, were discharged.

Based on the figures released, Lagos state recorded the highest number of infections with 46 new cases.

The data released also indicated that Kwara recorded 12 new infections, Rivers 11, and Adamawa 4.

Others were Niger – 4, Ogun – 4, Osun – 4, Ekiti – 3, Imo – 3, Kaduna – 3, Plateau – 2, and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – 1.

According to the NCDC, the 36 states and FCT have now recorded at least one confirmed case of the virus.

“Till date, 57, 242 cases have been confirmed, 48, 569 cases have been discharged, and 1,098 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the FCT,” the centre said.

NCDC stated that a multi-sectoral national emergency operations centre (EOC), activated at Level 3, has continued  to coordinate the national response activities across the country.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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Golf: DeChambeau muscles his way to United States Open victory



A bulked-up Bryson DeChambeau bashed his way to a six-shot United States Open victory on Sunday, silencing any lingering questions as to whether his brawny game could translate to the major stage.

World number nine DeChambeau, who began the day two shots back of United States Open debutant Matthew Wolff, clinched his first major title with a mix of jaw-dropping drives and clutch putts.

He shot a virtually flawless three-under-par 67 to reach six under for the tournament at Winged Foot.

“On nine is when I first thought, ‘OK, this could be reality’,” DeChambeau, speaking during the trophy presentation, said of his mindset after an eagle at the par-five ninth.

“I made that eagle, long eagle putt and I shocked myself by making it, too, and I thought to myself, ‘I could do it’. And then immediately after, I said, ‘nope, you’ve got to focus on each and every hole’.”

Wolff (75), appearing in only his second major, was one shot back of DeChambeau at the turn but fell apart over a back nine that included two bogeys and a double-bogey.

A fearless DeChambeau, whose final round included the eagle, two birdies and a bogey, attacked at every chance.

For his efforts was the only player to break par in the final round as he cruised to a maiden major at his 16th attempt.

The 27-year-old had re-emerged from the PGA Tour’s three-month COVID-19 suspension in mid-June packing serious muscle and hitting a startling distance off the tee.

He attacked Winged Foot all week like few other golfers can.

So confident in his approach, DeChambeau unleashed his driver on practically every par-four and par-five hole as he figured the birdie chances would outweigh the risk that Winged Foot’s nasty rough creates.

DeChambeau grabbed the solo lead after five holes, hit a perfectly-paced 40-foot eagle putt at the ninth to maintain a one-shot cushion.

It was a tournament that came down to a two-horse race between him and Wolff as they made the turn.

The 21-year-old Wolff was bidding to become the first player to win the United States Open on his tournament debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913.

But he bogeyed the 10th and 14th holes, before a double-bogey at 16.

“I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way,” said Wolff. “But first United States Open, second-place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for.”

Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (73) birdied the last to finish alone in third-place, a distant eight shots back of DeChambeau.

He was one shot clear of Harris English (73), who made a double-bogey at the first where he lost his tee shot.

Xander Schauffele (74) looked ready to make a back-nine charge after making the turn fresh off back-to-back birdies.

But the world number seven made five consecutive bogeys from the 13th and finished in fifth-place.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (75), who finished in a share of eighth-place, was almost left in a state of disbelief at DeChambeau’s win.

This was given his inaccuracy off the tee at a tournament renowned for its thick rough.

“I don’t really know what to say because that’s just the complete opposite of what you think a United States Open champion does,” said McIlroy.

“Look, he’s found a way to do it. Whether that’s good or bad for the game, I don’t know.

“But it’s just – it’s not the way I saw this golf course being played or this tournament being played. It’s kind of hard to really wrap my head around it.”


Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Source: NAN
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General news

Buhari holds closed-door meeting with Ghanaian president at Aso Villa



President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday night met behind closed doors with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Bashir Ahmad, the President’s Personal Assistant on New Media, confirmed this on his Twitter handle.

The presidential aide, who could not elaborate on the agenda of the meeting between the two leaders, however, posted pictures in which the Nigerian leader could be seen escorting his guest after the meeting.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the closure of shops owned by Nigerian traders in Ghana had  heightened tensions between the two countries, a situation which led the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama to summon Ghana’s Charge d Affaires to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo for discussions.

Onyeama had also met with representatives of Nigerian traders in Ghana, led by Jasper Emenike, the National President of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (PAN), and the organisation’s National Director,  Ruth Ango over the matter.

The Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had also visited Ghana on Sept. 2 with a view to seeing how the issues at stake could be resolved amicably.

According to the speaker, the closure of the Nigerian shops in Ghana contravenes the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol on free movement of citizens of member states, and trade liberalisation scheme.

NAN reports that the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) adopted in 1979 with an agreement on agricultural, artisanal handicrafts, and unprocessed products, and extended to industrial products in 1990, is the main framework for trade and market integration in ECOWAS as it addresses protocols on the free movement of goods, persons, and transportation.

The scheme’s main pursuit of consolidating the free trade area is guided by the National Approval Committee that informs the member states.

Similarly, Article (3) of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS on trade and market integration stipulates the removal of trade barriers and harmonisation of trade policies for the establishment of a Free Trade Area, a Customs Union, a Common Market and an eventual culmination in to a Monetary and Economic Union in West Africa.

NAN further reports that the Ghanaian government had proposed a meeting between the two leaders prior to the one they held behind closed doors on Sunday.


Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Source: NAN
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