Health and nutrition

Healthy growth and development for every child



The health of Jordan’s population has improved considerably over the last decade, with child and maternal mortality reduced and vaccination rates covering 95% of all children. However, maternal and child mortality rates reflect important socioeconomic inequities, with poorer mothers and children at greater risk.

Noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases are also on the rise, with long-term implications for the health of children.

Stunting fell from 12% in 2002 to 8% in 2012 but rates have stagnated for the past five years (Department of Statistics and ICF International, 2013) as some groups lack access to quality food, knowledge on care practices and adequate hygiene.

While over two-thirds of Jordanian women initiate breastfeeding within one day of giving birth, both exclusive breastfeeding and early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth have decreased since 2002: the latter fell from 39.7% to 18.6% (World Health Organization, 2016).

Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent among both Jordanian and Syrian refugee women and children. This is due to poor diets with low nutrient content, inadequate access to health care, and poor water and sanitation.

According to the 2015 Census, 1.3% of children aged 5-17 have severe functional difficulties while 6.1% of children have simple to severe functional difficulties (Jordan, Department of Statistics, 2015). Currently, early detection and active case finding is neither implemented nor regulated in Jordan’s health and education systems.



To achieve equitable access to quality health and nutrition services for every child, UNICEF works to strengthen the capacity of national health systems and prioritises actions that will will have the greatest impact on vulnerable children, including:

  • Supporting quality maternal and newborn care through the 'Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital' network with newborn intensive care, pediatric units and breastfeeding promotion;
  • Scaling up nutrition interventions that reduce micronutrient deficiencies and obesity among children;
  • Reaching the most vulnerable children with mobile integrated services, including health, nutrition and early detection and early intervention services;
  • Rolling out the School Health Initiative to access the growth and health status of children, and to educate them on healthy behaviours;
  • Providing mobile vaccination to reach children missed by routine immunization services;
  • Improving the reach of primary health care services to reach the most marginalized children and strengthening the cold chain.