Saturday 1 December 2012


The 61st session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee) took place from 17 September to 5 October 2012 in Geneva. The Committee reviewed the progress of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 7 countries: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Liberia and Namibia.
IBFAN presented alternative reports on the situation of infant and young child feeding for 6 of the countries under review. In 4 cases these reports were written in collaboration with IBFAN groups in the countries and IBFAN Regional Offices (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Liberia and Namibia). The report on the situation of infant and young child feeding in Albania was written by the Geneva Infant Feeding Association (IBFAN-GIFA).

In its concluding observations, the CRC Committee referred specifically to breastfeeding in 6 out of the 7 countries. With the exception of Andorra, all the other countries received concluding observations on infant and child nutrition and breastfeeding in particular.  The 6 countries concerned were reminded by the Committee of the importance of promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of age.
The Committee recommended the strengthening of awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of breastfeeding, among the public generally and new mothers in particular (Albania, Austria and Namibia). Namibia was also recommended to train health professionals and to develop educational programmes for parents.
A particular emphasis was put on the importance of the enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and especially on its thorough monitoring and the sanctioning of violations (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Canada, Liberia and Namibia). The Committee considered important for Austria and Bosnia & Herzegovina to strengthen the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and recommended the governments to allocate more funds to it and increase the number of certified hospitals.

The fight against malnutrition has been stressed as a priority for some countries and nutrition education and nutrition programs have been proposed as useful strategies (Albania, Liberia and Namibia).

On health more generally, the CRC Committee has focused on the need to ensure equal access to health care services (Albania, Namibia) and to improve the quality of the maternal health care system, with a focus on primary health care, by allocating more resources, ameliorating the infrastructure and its availability and accessibility (Albania, Liberia, Namibia).
Other issues of concern refer to establishing a countrywide system for monitoring children’s health status (Austria), strengthening  vaccination and iron supplementation programmes (Bosnia & Herzegovina), addressing the incidence of obesity in children by inter alia ensuring greater regulatory controls over the production and advertisement of fast food and unhealthy foods (Canada), ensuring effective implementation by companies of international and national environmental and health standards, and monitoring, sanctioning and providing remedies when violations occur (Namibia).

Summary of concluding observations on IYCF: CRC Session 61 - 2012
IBFAN report
Summary of specific recommendations on IYCF
Direct (Para 60-61): strengthen its efforts to address child malnutrition, focusing primarily on the most disadvantaged categories of children and on nutrition education and access to quality food; Strengthen its efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age by raising the awareness of health personnel and the public of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding;
Indirect (Para 61): prioritize the allocation of financial and human resources to the health sector with a special emphasis on primary health care in order to ensure equal access to quality health services by all children, including children living in remote areas and Roma children; strengthen the link between maternal and child health services, including pediatric institutions and the collaboration of these services and the early childhood care institutions;
Direct (Para 48-49): strengthen awareness-raising efforts on the importance of breastfeeding and promote exclusive breastfeeding of children up to the age of 6 months; strengthen the monitoring of existing marketing regulations relating to breast-milk substitutes and ensure that such regulations are monitored on a regular basis and action is taken against those who violate these regulations; increase the number of maternity hospitals that meet the required standards and are certified as baby-friendly under the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).
Indirect (Para 47): establish a countrywide system for monitoring children’s health status.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Direct (Para 54-55): reinstate its Breastfeeding Promotion Programme; provide funding for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative; enforce the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes at a national level with effective monitoring mechanisms and commensurate sanctions for violations
Indirect (Para 55): strengthen vaccination and iron supplementation programme
Direct (Para 62): establish a programme to promote and enable all mothers to successfully exclusively breastfeed for the first 6 months of the infant’s life and sustain breastfeeding for 2 years or more as recommended by the Global strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding; enforce the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, and undertake appropriate action to investigate and sanction violations.
Indirect (Para 64): address the incidence of obesity in children, by inter alia ensuring greater regulatory controls over the production and advertisement of fast food and unhealthy foods, especially those targeted at children.
Direct (Para 64-65): strengthen the promotion of breastfeeding and enforce the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, as a means of combating the high prevalence of infant malnutrition; prioritise work on the causes of maternal and child mortality and morbidity, including underlying factors such as acute and chronic under-nutrition and nutritional deficiencies; develop nutrition programmes as a matter of urgency to reduce stunting and other forms of malnutrition; implement the Essential Nutrition Package in all health facilities;
Indirect (Para 28, 62, 63): improve access to basic health care services for all children and pregnant women; devise and implement a strong primary health care system; strengthen health education and promote positive attitudes and healthy behaviours that may contribute to reduce the prevalence of maternal and child mortality; develop an accessible ante-natal care system provided by trained caregivers at home or in clinics, including care at delivery and for new-born babies; encourage pregnant women to seek antenatal care and deliver babies at hospitals; strengthen cooperation with civil society.
Direct (Para 61-62): strengthen the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of 6 months, by extending maternity leave without negatively affecting other labour rights; create a national monitoring system to monitor compliance with the IC; train health professionals, including professionals working in maternity units and communities on optimal breastfeeding practices and the importance of avoiding breastmilk substitutes, and ensure that they provide appropriate support to new mothers; initiate country-wide programmes to facilitate the early initiation of breastfeeding in all maternity centers; strengthen awareness-raising campaigns, particularly among new mothers.
Strengthen efforts to address the high rates of malnutrition of children, and develop educational programmes, including campaigns to inform parents about basic child health and nutrition.
Indirect (Para 27, 54): ensure effective implementation by companies of international and national environmental and health standards, and that the implementation is monitored, and appropriately sanctioned and remedies provided when violations occur, and that appropriate international certification is sought; undertake measures to ensure that all children enjoy the same access to and quality of health services; improve access to maternal care services by improving health infrastructure and increasing the availability and accessibility to Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care and skilled birth attendants.

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