Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Breastfeeding situation reported by Guinea not confirmed by data


The situation of the implementation of the Convention for the Rights of the Child in Guinea has been reviewed by the CRC at the 62nd session, on January 18th 2013.

IBFAN submitted its alternative report on the situation of breastfeeding in Guinea (also in French). The report highlights the fact that a 1997 draft legislation for the implementation of the Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is still stuck in the legislative process and has therefore not yet been adopted. It also notes that, even though mothers continue breastfeeding for an average duration of 2 years, there is a sharp drop in exclusive breastfeeding after the 3rd month of age leading to an 18% rate of exclusive breastfeeding between the 3rd and the 6th month of child’s life.

The CRC Committee raised questions about the alarming maternal and children under-5 mortality rates. The high incidence of child malnutrition and of diseases linked to malnutrition and poverty – such as noma – has also been an issue of concern. The Guinea delegation explained the high mortality rates of both mothers and children by the lack and the poor quality of health services and health personnel. 

Questions about malnutrition have not been addressed in detail, but the Guinean delegation did mention the issue of breastfeeding. The delegation considered that exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life is considerably promoted in Guinea. It also noted the little presence of breastmilk substitutes on the Guinean market. The delegation reported that working mothers are aware of the importance of breastfeeding and thus they prefer staying at home in order to breastfeed. In health centers there are both prenatal and postnatal support, where mothers are advised to feed their children by exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months. Whenever mother cannot breastfeed because of infections they have and  could transmit to their children,  babies are treated at the infant nutrition centre in order to feed them. 

Data presented in the IBFAN alternative report seem to contradict with the positive picture described by the delegation. We regret that the CRC Committee did not address further questions on this issue to the delegation.

Women with their babies at a community health centre in Conakry, Guinea. Image via IRIN.