Nigerian Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (centre) and UNICEF Representative in Nigeria Dr. Suomi Sakai during a visit to the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria.
ABUJA, Nigeria, 31 July 2009 - As Nigeria joins the rest of the international community to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week, 1-7 August, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman is in Nigeria, highlighting the critical need for improvements in child health and nutrition.
On an official visit here, Veneman today noted that Nigeria has 2 per cent of the world's population but 12 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five - a situation that must improve if the world is to make progress on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
As Veneman noted, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life can have the single largest impact on child survival of all preventive interventions.
"Undernutrition is an underlying cause in one-third of all under-five deaths," she said. "During the first six months of life, breast milk completely meets an infant's nutritional requirements. Yet only 13 per cent of children in Nigeria are exclusively breastfed from birth to six months of age."