Assessment of status of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practice, policy and programs: achievements and gaps in Ethiopia

Assessment of status of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practice, policy and programs: achievements and gaps in Ethiopia

Breastfeeding is universal in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Demographic Health Survey indicates that only 52 per cent of children under six months are exclusively breastfed despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for up to the first six months of life.

The objective of this study is to find achievements and gaps in the existing policy, program and practices in reference to Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in Ethiopia and to build a consensus among all partners on the way forward to improve the existing IYCF practice.

Review of secondary data, including different national publications, guidelines and reports, is made and assessed based on the 15 indicators modified by International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) in order to identify the current situations in the country in reference to the infant and young child feeding policy, program and practices.

In this assessment gaps are identified and recommendations are also forwarded. The main gaps identified are absence of National Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, inadequate maternity leave conditions to exclusively breastfeed for six months, and lack of knowledge and experience by mothers about optimal complementary feeding practices.

Limitations in the pre-service nutrition education curriculum for health care providers, inadequate skills and competencies by care providers to provide effective IYCF counselling support to mothers/caretakers and lack of awareness of the mother on the risk of bottle feeding are other gaps identified in the assessment.

Despite all the gaps identified in this assessment, Ethiopia is still on good track with 92 out of 150 scores in overall achievements with blue coloring status. This calls for the attention of policy makers to support and promote optimal breastfeeding in the country through bridging the gap between the gaps identified in this assessment and the WHO infant and young child feeding recommendations.

 

[Summary adapted from author]