Kwara WBFA-Medela NICU Lactation Improvement Program


Nigeria ranks 6th highest in the world for infant mortality and complications due to prematurity is the leading cause of death. 47% of the deaths of children below 5 years occur in the first 28 days of life, many of them are preventable and can be addressed through improved nutrition with mother’s milk. Today Nigeria has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world with only 17% of mothers exclusively breastfeeding their children for 6 months4. Sub-optimal breastfeeding practices (globally) prompted the World Health Assembly to set a global goal to improve breastfeeding rates to 50% by the year 2030.
According to the WHO, breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and infant. Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding protects against diarrhoea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and may also have longer-term health benefits, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Provision of mother’s breast milk to infants within one hour of birth is referred to as “early initiation of breastfeeding” and ensures that the infant receives the colostrum, or “first milk”, which is rich in protective factors. Current evidence indicates that skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant shortly after birth helps to initiate early breastfeeding and increases the likelihood of exclusive breastfeeding for one to four months of life as well as the overall duration of breastfeeding. Infants placed in early skin-to-skin contact with their mother also appear to interact more with their mothers and cry less.
Acknowledging breastfeeding is a human rights issue for babies and mothers and should be protected and promoted for the benefit of both, WBFA partnered with Medela Care, a U.S.-based manufacturing and development facility in McHenry, to improve the support offered to new mothers in Nigeria by delivering Neonates Intensive Care Unity (NICU)-specific education and training on the value of human milk and how to build sufficient milk supply for long-term breastfeeding. This work involves frontline healthcare workers, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.
This project is being implemented in four states in Nigeria: Abuja, Kwara and Lagos and five health care centres were selected from each state. In Abuja, the program is being implemented in Maitama General Hospital and Asokoro General Hospital. In Kwara State, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and General Hospital Ilorin. In Lagos State, Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

Programme Objectives

Project Impact

WBFA Kwara State office has successfully carried out baseline assessments at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and General Hospital Ilorin. Our 2 data assistants in the state have improved capacity on NICU data handling and have been gathering data from the NICU facilities in the state. They have been active in ensuring that data are saved on the Medela QI tool on a daily basis. For the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, 51 babies have been registered on the QI tool post-implementation period and in total, 113 babies have been registered on the QI tool. As for General Hospital Ilorin, 42 babies have been registered so far post-implementation period with a total of 81 babies registered pre-and post-implementation period.