NGO calls for extended maternity leave as Kebbi faces malnutrition

A Nongovernmental organisation in Nigeria (NGO), the CS-SUNN, has called on the Kebbi State government to as a matter of urgency implement maternity entitlement of a six months paid leave for female Civil Servants to promote breastfeeding in the first six months of life of a Child and complementary feeding until two years of age.

Addressing newsmen during a round table discussion in Birnin-Kebbi last weekend, on the ‘Increased Investment to scale up quality Nutrition Services’ the Executive Secretary of the NGO, Mr Sunday Okoronkwo revealed that in Kebbi State, 66.1 per cent of Children under five years are stunted, 46.4 per cent are underweight, while 12.3 per cent are wasted.

Mr Okoronkwo revealed further that Kebbi State Government in collaboration with Stakeholders domesticated the State’s Multi-sectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (MSPAFN) which set out nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions.

He pointed out that the plans remained unreviewed since 2020, let alone receiving approval from the State Government, adding that the State policy on food and nutrition has been long developed but yet to get approval from the State government.

The non-approval of the policy according to him, poses a persistent barrier hindering the adoption of multisectoral approach by various nutritional lines in advancing food and nutrition security in the State.

He also expressed that, the absence of explicit budget line for specific nutrition programmes in the State’s 2024 budget further compounds the problems, contributing to possible sub optimal budgetary allocations, releases and utilisation for nutrition initiatives.

These challenges he expressed further, contribute to the deeper challenge of effectively tackling malnutrition in the State, noting however that an enabling environment for maternity protection and entitlements such as six months paid maternity leave, which enhanced breastfeeding practices has faced challenges.

The organisation therefore called on Kebbi State government to as a matter of policy, review and approve the State Multisectoral plan of action for food and nutrition, approve the State policy on food and nutrition, extend the maternity leave for nursing mothers in Kebbi State from the current three to six months with pay.

Also to establish Nutrition Departments in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies and allocate and release promptly, adequate funds for the implementation of nutrition interventions designed to reduce malnutrition in the State.


Tribune Online