Increasing breastfeeding could save the lives of over 500,000 children every year, and avert 20,000 maternal deaths due to breast cancer each year.
The World Bank estimates additional economic gains worth over $300billion across lower and middle-income countries as a result of improved cognitive development and child survival rates.
It is good that the Nigeria Labour Law provides for 16 weeks maternity leave, but it will be better if mothers actually use the leave for the purpose it was advocated. Mothers need to understand that exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding for 24months is a lifetime investment.
Businesses have to be more parent friendly to encourage breastfeeding especially when the mother has resumed work. Analysis by the World Bank has shown that every one dollar invested in enabling a mother to breastfeed, generates 35 dollars in income returns.
When organizations have lactation friendly policies they save in healthcare expenditure, increase staff retention and reduce absenteeism.
Over 100,000 children die annually in Nigeria, which in turn translates to almost $12billion in future economic losses for the country. When we add cognitive losses due to inadequate breastfeeding, it comes to $21billion per year or 4.1% of our Gross National Income. Breastfeeding is one of the smartest investments a country can make to build its future prosperity.