Only 19% countries follow Breastfeeding Code

Screenshot_2As per World Health Organisation (WHO), only 19% countries of 199 countries, subscribing to the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes have passed laws incorporating all Code’s recommendations.

In India 46 % of infants are exclusively breastfed in their first six months and there are stringent laws against marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Mothers are often misled to believe their children are better nourished with commercial substitutesand they are often misguided with incorrect and biased information both directly through advertising, health claims, information packs and sales representatives and indirectly through the public health system

Key statistics(of 199 countries):

  • 69 countries (35 %) fully prohibit advertising of breast-milk substitutes.
  • 62 countries (31 %) completely prohibit free samples or low cost supplies for health services.
  • 64 countries (32 %) completely prohibit gifts of any kind from relevant manufacturers to health workers.
  • 83 countries (42 %) require a message about the superiority of breastfeeding on breast milk substitute labels.
  • Only 45 countries (23%) report having a functioning implementation and monitoring system.
How breast feeding is crucial for both Mother and her baby?
  • Breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for a healthy development.
  • The breastfed babies are less likely to be become overweight and they may also be less prone to diabetes.
  • It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses.
  • Breastfeeding also benefits mothers as it reduces risks of breast and ovarian cancer.
What is “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes”?
  • International health policy framework for breastfeeding promotion adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1981.
  • Developed as a global public health strategy and recommends restrictions on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes viz. infant formula.
  • Covers ethical considerations and regulations for the marketing of feeding bottles and teats.
What is covered under International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes?

All breastmilk substitutes. These are products which are marketed in a way which suggests they should replace breastfeeding, even if the product is not suitable for that purpose. They may include:

  • Infant formula
  • Follow-on formula
  • Baby foods
  • Gruels
  • Teas and juices
  • Bottles
  • Teats/nipples and related equipment
What is the aim of  the “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitute”?
  • To ensure that mothers are not discouraged from breastfeeding and that substitutes are used safely if needed.
  • To shield breastfeeding from commercial promotion that affects mothers, health workers , health care systems and Labelling.
What is the concern over “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitute” ?
  • The baby food industry has been the subject of pointed criticism from NGOs, international agencies and campaign groups for inability to abide by the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitute.
  • On its own, the International Code is not legally enforceable.
  • Companies are only subject to legal sanctions for failing to abide by the Code where it has been incorporated into the legislature of a nation state.
  • Many countries have fully or partially adopted the Code as law. Other countries have no legislation on baby food marketing at all.
  • Code violations by baby food manufacturers are still widespread, especially (but not exclusively) in countries that have not implemented the Code as a national measure or where monitoring and enforcement is not strong.
How is “International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes” monitored?
  • The WHO, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), UNICEF, Save the Children and other international organizations perform monitoring of implementation of the Code across the world both independently and with governments.