What We Are Doing

Save the Children Jordan raises awareness on malnutrition at the Zaatari Camp 27 Nov 2014

Save the Children Jordan hosted an awareness session on malnutrition with a particular focus on breastfeeding practices at the Zaatari camp in November 2014. This was part of their Infant and Young Child feeding (IYCF) program launched in December 2012  (funded by OCHA, Save the Children US, UKAid and the German Cooperation - Save the Children Germany) with an aim to reach 90% of women and children under 5 to promote and support appropriate breastfeeding and infant feeding practices. Since its initiation, 5000 sessions have been conducted with daily session to support young mothers and pregnant women in the camp. The IYCF program has been such a big success that it is now being fully funded by UNICEF. 

Breastfeeding in an emergency is the safest way to protect children from an increased risk of infection and from becoming malnourished. With the right support and assistance mothers can continue to breastfeed fully, even when malnourished, in order to give their children the best chance of survival. In an emergency setting, access to sanitary facilities to sterilize bottles and prepare infant formula, appropriate and timely health services, safe storage of water and privacy to breastfeed can be limited; thus impacting on the nutritional status of infants if an intervention is not provided.

Prior to the conflict, breast feeding indicators among the Syrian population were already poor. The poor infant and young child feeding practices among the Syrian refugees, in addition to the untargeted and unsolicited distribution of infant formula, high levels of stress and anxiety, misinformation from health providers, and limited access to familiar foods and drinking water has led to a demand for infant formula.  Despite this, only a small percentage of women requesting formula are actually unable to breastfeed, according to discussions with the health staff . Save the Children Jordan has given health workers an orientation on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and it’s application in emergency settings to ensure adequate support to young mothers.

The IYCF program has successfully established three caravans provided for mothers to breastfeed - Baby Space - at the Zaatari camp. The program also continues to provide support and awareness raising sessions to pregnant and lactating women and helping them face breastfeeding challenges as well as the reproductive health worries.

The IYCF program has also successfully partnered with existing and new health service providers in the camp to hold educational sessions and raise awareness on newborn and young child's nutritional needs, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and personal hygiene.

The awareness session on breastfeeding to prevent malnutrition held in November 2014, included lessons on adopting a cup feeding mechanism, understanding the newborn's nutritional needs and the importance of fluids. To ensure that the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes is followed at the camp, Save the Children Jordan has stationed health workers at the clinics where infant formula is being distributed to monitor the process and ensure that the clinics follow the code.  

The education sessions are used in a great way to explain optimal feeding practices to mothers and ensure that they have all the support they need to maintain the nutrition levels in their children.