While Jamaican children have universal access to health care, their well-being is compromised by deeply entrenched income inequities that create vulnerabilities for children, especially those living in rural and urban inner-city areas.
Most Jamaican infants do not get the best possible start to life through breastfeeding. On average, Jamaican mothers only breastfeed exclusively for three weeks. Other major health challenges facing children as they grow up include obesity, mental health and STD /HIV infection. Many children and adolescents begin sexual activity at a young age – in a 2016 study, 37% of students aged 13-15 reported already having sexual intercourse. Many also go on to engage in risky sexual practices that endanger their health and well-being. Adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence are among the most persistent issues affecting the health, social and economic progress and empowerment of young women and girls in Jamaica.