Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Issue of Breastfeeding in Armenia (CESCR)


On the 7th of May 2014, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the combined second to third periodic report of Armenia on how the country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

IBFAN presented an alternative report on the situation of infant and young child feeding in Armenia, prepared by Confidence Health NGO.

General overview of breastfeeding

The report showed in particular how the International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is violated in hospitals. It additionally reported on how NGOs registered violations of the International Code in some baby-friendly certified hospitals since the implementation and monitoring of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) has been discontinued in 2008. The report also mentions the existence of a draft law on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, its weaknesses and possible improvements. Nevertheless, after the report was written, there have been some positive developments that resulted in a strengthening of the draft law. Other than that, the report also states that the overall situation of breastfeeding in Armenia has improved over the last decades by the increasing breastfeeding rates. Yet, in the last couple of years the situation of breastfeeding has come to a stall and progress has stopped.

One of the key challenges that Armenia is currently facing relates to complementary feeding, which is often nutritionally inadequate, as a result of lack of knowledge. This has led to increasing rates of stunting, anaemia and overweight among children.

Discussion on infant and young child feeding

No specific questions on breastfeeding or infant and young child feeding have been formulated. However, regarding the issue of payment of informal fees to healthcare by patients,  raised by the experts, the delegation stated that it had made all primary health services free of charge.

CECSR Concluding Observations

In its Concluding Observations, the Committee recommends Armenia to monitor and assess the impact of measures taken to advance the economic, social and cultural rights (para 7). It further recommends Armenia to adopt measures to expedite the elimination of discrimination against women and girls (para 22).