On the 26th of May 2014, the Committee on the Rights of the Child considered the combined fourth to fifth periodic reports of Jordan on the situation of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the country.
IBFAN presented an alternative report to inform the CRC Committee on Jordan’s situation on the issue of infant and young child feeding.
General overview of breastfeeding in Jordan
In Jordan, the rate of early initiation of breastfeeding is low (38.8%) what, compared to the very high rate of institutional delivery (almost 99%), questions the quality of the training provided to health professionals. Furthermore, almost four children out of five are not exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age, while more than 45% of the infants under 1 month of age are fed with infant formula and some 24% of the children of 4-5 months of age are weaned prematurely. These data should be assessed in close conjunction with the high stunting rate of the children under 5 years of age are stunted (8%). The country has implemented most, but not all, of the provisions of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as legally enforceable measures.
A general lack of data on “baby-friendly” hospitals also has been observed. Similarly, a lack of data on HIV/AIDS and infant feeding has been noted. This is especially concerning given that the latter infection is still stigmatized and the population does not receive adequate and comprehensive information about it.
Besides, the alternative report emphasized that not all working women are benefiting from maternity protection and many women still experience occupational segregation.
Finally, it has been highlighted that, despite a national policy and training programme on infant and young child feeding in emergencies, support to optimal breastfeeding practices in refugees’ camps is not ensured and refugee women often face difficulties to access to health care facilities.
Discussion on infant and young child feeding
The CRC Committee pointed out that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding is low and asked if there was any national campaign to encourage mothers to breastfeed for a longer period.
The delegation of Jordan answered that Jordan has implemented a law prohibiting the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. It stated that awareness-raising campaigns to promote breastfeeding have been launched and information on the best way to incorporate breastfeeding within the family routine has been disseminated. The delegation also explained that there is a national guidance for medical professionals on the circumstances in which powdered milk should be recommended.
In addition, the delegation also explained that Jordan has the lowest rate of HIV/AIDS in the Arab region and that the national HIV/AIDS strategy includes reintegration measures for infected persons and awareness-raising campaigns on the transmission of the virus.
In its Concluding Observations, the CRC Committee recommended Jordan to strengthen its mechanisms for data collection (para 8 (b)). Regarding health issues, it urged the country to “ensure equal access to quality health services by all children, through the adoption of measures aimed at prioritizing children in the most disadvantaged and marginalized situations, especially child refugees, and by addressing child malnutrition and infectious diseases” (para 44). The Committee also emphasized the necessity to “improve access to quality, age-appropriate HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health information and services” (para 48).
However, the Committee issued no direct recommendations related to infant and young child feeding.