“There is nothing more natural, nothing more instinctive, and nothing more effective than breast-feeding. Protecting her baby is a mother's first instinct and a mother's milk is the most powerful vaccine there is against infectious and non-infectious disease. That is why I am proud of UNICEF's efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding,” said Her Majesty who is UNICEF’s Eminent Advocate for Children.
Research has shown that neonatal mortality is reduced by 22 per cent when children are breastfed within an hour of birth. This is very relevant to Jordan since 70 per cent of infant deaths are attributed to neo-natal death, thus reducing the latter will help reduce infant deaths and help Jordan achieve its Millennium Development Goal 4 on child mortality.
The Jordanian Ministry of Health and UNICEF Jordan have worked on upgrading the capacities of health professionals in several hospitals and centres to promote breastfeeding, in addition to organizing a series of awareness raising activities. These include activities at the governorate level where Mother and Child Health Centres are holding awareness sessions on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding.
“In Jordan, and according to the Demographic Health Survey for 2002, only 26.7 per cent of women breastfeed their babies exclusively during the first six months after delivery,” notes Dr. Hanan Najmi, Head of the Maternity and Breastfeeding Unit at the Ministry of Health.
The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week encourages mothers to breastfeed in the first hour. Early initiation and breastfeeding exclusively for six months without any additional food or liquid can save more than one million babies.
Global breastfeeding goals call for at least 60 per cent of infants below six months of age to be exclusively breastfed. At least 70 per cent of infants between six to nine months should receive both breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding.
The Mother and Child Directorate at the Ministry of Health and in cooperation with UNICEF and WHO have promoted breastfeeding in Jordan to increase the number of breastfed babies. The Directorate has trained staff in most health centres and in some hospitals, and produced informative audiovisual material on breastfeeding. It has been promoting the work of support groups for breastfeeding at centres and local communities. Hospitals and health centres have also been empowered to support the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.
UNICEF support for integrated, community-based health care includes the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding and the agency works with partners, governments and communities to support national infant feeding legislation and improve care before and after birth.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, now implemented in 171 countries globally, is an accreditation process that requires a hospital to reach specific standards related to the 10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding. The 10 Steps Initiative includes helping a mother begin breastfeeding within the first hour of life.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For further information, please contact:
Hind-Lara Mango, Communication Officer, UNICEF Jordan: Tel.: +9626-5502430; E-mail: hmango @unicef.org