By Murtala Muhammad
The United Nations Children Fund UNICEF says working parents and caregivers should have sufficient paid maternity leave for six months, to enable them to meet the essential nutritional needs of their young children.
The Chief of UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr. Tushar Rane stated this virtually at the opening of a media dialogue for journalists from the five states under it, on 2023 World Breastfeeding Week, at Azare, Katagum local government area of the state.
Dr Tushar Rane said government and employers must provide the needed assistance for mothers and caregivers including those in the informal sector to conveniently breastfeed or support breastfeeding.
He emphasized the need for the promotion of policies that encourages breastfeeding, such as paid maternity leave for six months, as well as paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options.
Dr Rane also said regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months should be provided.
The Chief of UNICEF Bauchi Field Office noted that family-friendly workplace policies – such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed, or express breast milk are also needed to be provided by employers.
He said these approaches generate economic returns by reducing maternity-related absenteeism, increasing the retention of female workers, and reducing the costs of hiring and training new staff.
Dr Rane therefore called on the journalists to amplify the advocacy for the policy to come to fruition, adding that babies who are not breastfed are fourteen times more likely to die before they reach their first birthday than babies who are exclusively breastfed.