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In Nigeria, religious leaders and communities join initiative to improve children’s health and well-being

UNICEF Nigeria/2010/Seyi Body-Lawson
© UNICEF Nigeria/2010/Body-Lawson
Community members and health workers from Ibadan, Oyo State, perform at the Concert of Parental Songs for Child Survival, on Universal Children's Day 2010.

Abuja, Nigeria,24 November 2010 – Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Nigeria urged thousands of their followers to follow practices to ensure their children’s health and survival, particularly breastfeeding of infants, during recent celebrations to mark the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children.

Citing from the Bible and the Quran, Alhaji Altine Waziri, representing the Sultan of Sokoto and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, emphasized the importance and blessings of mothers breastfeeding their children.

Promoting child health
The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, also joined the Government of Nigeria and UNICEF in urging parents to take their children for free health services during the ongoing Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week.

Participants in the Day of Prayer and Action observances used traditional parental songs to communicate messages on breastfeeding, use of insecticide-treated bednets, hand-washing, routine immunisation and attendance of pregnant women at antenatal clinics.

UNICEF Deputy Representative Jacques Boyer cited research findings indicating that breastfed children have at least six times greater chance for survival in the early months of life than non-breastfed children.

"Breast is best"
Earlier, the Deputy Chief Imam of the National Mosque in Abuja, Alhaji Mohammed Kabir, called on the over 5,000 Muslim faithful to fulfill Allah’s teachings on child care, including breastfeeding.

Pastor Paul Eneche similarly urged the multitude of religious leaders and worshippers in the packed arena of Dunamis International Church to spread the message of breastfeeding to all Nigerians. He and his wife, Becky, both of whom are medical doctors, pledged to include breastfeeding in their marriage counselling seminars for new couples.



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