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Exclusive breastfeeding: Reps consider bill to make creches mandatory for workplaces

Exclusive breastfeeding: Reps consider bill to make creches mandatory for workplaces
December 09
17:16 2021

A bill seeking to make the establishment of creches mandatory in public and private workplaces has passed second reading at the house of representatives

The proposed legislation, which is sponsored by Sergius Ogun, a lawmaker from Edo state, seeks to amend the Labour Act, 1971 to compel every employer to “provide a creche facility within the precincts of the workplace”.

According to the bill which is also aimed at improving exclusive breastfeeding, the establishment of creches will enable nursing mothers to “keep their suckling children within work hours under the watch of a nanny employed by the employer at a reasonable fee”.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exclusive breastfeeding means that an infant is given only breast milk, and no other liquids including water with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.

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In a 2020 report, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said through adequate scaling-up of breastfeeding to recommended levels, the lives of more than 820,000 children younger than five years old could be saved and 20,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented annually.

The agency added that “research has found that returning to work without adequate support mechanisms can hamper optimal breastfeeding practices”.

Leading the debate on the bill during plenary session on Thursday, Ogun said the provisions of the Labour Act, which provides for four months of maternity leave for nursing mothers, may be insufficient for exclusive breastfeeding of babies for up to six months as recommended.

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The lawmaker said exclusive breastfeeding has the potential to provide stronger immunity, and reduce risk of infections, adding that “it will go a long way in enhancing the productivity of such employees, knowing that their children are in safe hands”.

Commenting on the bill, Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house, said natural breastmilk cannot be substituted with any other formula.

The bill was unanimously voted for after it was put to a voice vote by Wase, after which it was referred to the committee on labour, employment and productivity for further legislative work.

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