Child mortality to drop in Bauchi as state assembly enacts friendly laws for lactating mothers
In its move to ensure the reduction of child mortality and morbidity rate in Bauchi State, the state house of assembly is pioneering the enactment of a new law that will guarantee extension of maternity leave for lactating women in order to ensure exclusive breast feeding, and a conducive work environment for all lactating mothers in the state.
A report by Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in 2021, revealed that Bauchi state has the highest mortality rate of children under-five.
The report stated that 153 children in the age bracket die per 1,000 live births which is above the national average of 102 and the entire North-East that stands at 114.
According to the member representing Sade state constituency who doubles as the chairman house committee on health, Hon. Dauda Lawal, the state assembly will champion the enactment of friendly laws for breastfeeding women in order to turn around the unacceptable situation.
Lawal noted that the state house of assembly is working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the draft of a robust and acceptable bill that will be accepted by all expressing optimism that Bauchi will pioneer the enactment of the new law in the north east.
Currently, nursing mothers enjoy only three months leave in the state informing the resolve of the assembly to change the narrative for the benefit of the family and the entire state.
Dauda, who made the disclosure during a media dialogue organized by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Bauchi Field Office, noted that when the law takes effect, child survival especially within the (0 – 5) age bracket will be ramped up.
He noted that when passed, the new law would promote best breastfeeding practices and protect the interests of mothers and their babies in the state.
“We had brainstorming meeting with key stakeholders including donor partners on enabling breastfeeding for working mothers,” he said.
“As House of Assembly members representing our constituents, we will ensure that there is improved breastfeeding practices that have potentials to save lives of many children under five years”
The lawmaker noted that despite seeming hurdles facing the move, the assembly will not relent till it ensures the enactment of the law urging the executive arm to on its part facilitate the the draft and transmission of the new bill to the house of assembly for an expedited passage.
He thanked various stakeholders including the first lady, the executive chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, UNICEF et all for their concerted efforts towards the success of the project.
“The request by Her Excellency, the First Lady of Bauchi State, was to make it to be six months,” he said.
“The Assembly members are committed to ensure that we pass that law. I assure you that since the First Lady is in the picture of what transpired there, she will encourage her husband to implement that law God willing
“Our responsibility is to pass law and I assure you that law will be history and Bauchi will be the first in the North East to pass that law. We are going to engage public hearing before we pass that law.
“We will engage the Heads of ministries and agencies and traditional rulers so that we discuss with them since we are representing them,” he said.
Re-echoing similar commitment and resolve, the Executive chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed disclosed that his agency is also working round the clock to ensure the law comes into effect in the state.
He noted that the importance of such piece of legislation could not be overemphasized as it will affect the fortunes of the state in multifaceted ways.
While thanking UNICEF for its unflinching leadership and commitment, he told the meeting that in order to produce an acceptable document, the state healthcare development agency will conduct relentless advocacies and public hearings to shore up the integrity of the process via a vis the proposed document.
Mohammed noted that stakeholders such as traditional rulers, relevant MDAs, CSOs, UNICEF, will be involved in all the processes, promising not to leave anyone behind.
He said the state will tap from the experiences and successes of Lagos and Kaduna States who have blazed the trail in the area.
In his message, Dr. Tushar Rane, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria Bauchi Field Office, called on the government to provide the enabling environment to facilitate six months maternity leave and other viable provisions for the benefit of mothers, babies and the state in general.
He noted that it is important to carry along the private and informal sectors in the new drive to ensure all stakeholders are carried along.
“We must promote policies that encourage breastfeeding, such as paid maternity leave for six months, as well as paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options, regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
“When working parents and caregivers have sufficient paid leave, they can meet the essential nutritional needs of their young children,” Rene said.
When passed, the law will ensure the creation of creches in both public and private institutions, payment of full entitlements to lactating mothers, extension of maternity leave and two weeks parternity leave amongst others in the state.
The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year as a response to the challenges bedeviling exclusive breastfeeding and other critical concerns in the sector.
The 2023 World breastfeeding week themed, “enabling breastfeeding: making a difference for working parents” shifts attention to workplace breastfeeding.