A new report – ‘Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and National Immunisation Coverage Survey’ undertaken by the National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, has revealed that Nigeria recorded a 10 per cent increase in exclusive breastfeeding rate in the last five years.
According to the MICS report launched recently by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the statistics on mothers engaging in exclusive breastfeeding increased from 24 per cent in 2016 to 34 per cent in 2021.
The MICS-NICS report, which provides the latest statistics on exclusive breastfeeding also indicated that Nigeria has made progress in some sectors.
The data obtained by PUNCH HealthWise, revealed that child mortality decreased from one in eight children dying before their fifth birthday (MICS 2016) to one in 10 children (MICS 2021).
“There has also been significant progress in exclusive breastfeeding and birth registration rates – the exclusive breastfeeding rate increased from 24 per cent to 34 per cent, while nearly 60 per cent of Nigerian children are now registered at birth with civil authorities, compared to 47 per cent in 2016.
“In addition, child marriage (women married before age 18) has reduced from 44 per cent to 30 per cent since 2016,” the report stated.
The MICS, according to the NBS, provides data on child mortality, health, nutrition, education, child and social protection, women’s health care and empowerment, water, sanitation, and hygiene, while NICS assesses vaccination coverage provided through the health systems.
It added that indicators produced for the first time include social transfer, household energy use, child functioning and foundational learning skills.
The survey also measures the progress of the government toward national commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In reaction, child health experts described the increase in exclusive breastfeeding rate and reduction in child mortality rate as significant, noting that the results are an indication that the interventions provided by the government and partners are working.
Reacting to the report, a Professor of Paediatrics at the Department of Paediatrics, College of Health Sciences, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Olugbenga Mokuolu, described the increase in exclusive breastfeeding rate from 24 per cent in 2016 to 34 per cent in 2021 as a significant leap.
According to him, the increase is an indication that the messages on exclusive breastfeeding are yielding results, adding that there have been several efforts to reinforce breastfeeding practices
Prof. Mokuolu, who is also a Consultant Paediatrician at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, added, “We are beginning to see the dividend of that. Education plays an important role in terms of the findings that we are seeing. It is a major driver of the results.
“What that means is that going forward, it becomes important to look at these factors. Some of the factors that can promote rapid gains will be the education of the mother and the girl child. Areas that we have successes, we should continue to reinforce that.”
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins while reacting to the report said, “Data is critical for effective budgeting and decision making – and the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.
“The picture is a mixed one. While there has been some good progress, and we should celebrate that – we still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children in Nigeria.”
Also reacting to the report, Statistician-General of the Federation/CEO National Bureau of Statistics, Prince Adeyemi Adeniran, said the findings of the survey will help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets – providing evidence for where more support and funds need to be wisely allocated and utilised.
“As we build back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MICS-NICS survey provides evidence to shape interventions and focus resources in a way that helps children and their families reach their full potential.
“Using the data to monitor progress towards our collective commitments to children and families, and inform future action is critical if we must leave no one behind,” he noted.
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