The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes

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Have you heard of “The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes”? The WHO Code includes the below 14 important provisions:
No advertising of products under the scope of the Code to the public.
No free samples to mothers.
No promotion of products in health care facilities, including the distribution of free or low-cost supplies.
No company representatives to advise mothers.
No gifts or personal samples to health care workers.
No words or pictures idealizing artificial feeding, including pictures of infants, on the labels of the products.
Information to health workers should be scientific and factual.
All information on artificial feeding, including the labels, should explain the benefits of breastfeeding and all costs and hazards associated with artificial feeding.
Unsuitable products such as sweetened condensed milk should not be promoted for babies.
All products should be of a high quality and take account of the climatic and storage conditions of the country where they are used.
Promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months as a global public health recommendation with continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond.
Foster appropriate complementary feeding from the age of six months recognizing that any food or drink given before nutritionally required may interfere with breastfeeding.
Babies don’t need ANYTHING but breastmilk for the first 6 months of life.  From 6 months onward, it is recommended that you continue to breastfeed while providing nutritious complimentary foods for up to two years or beyond.
Complementary foods are not to be marketed in ways to undermine exclusive and sustained breastfeeding.
Financial assistance from the infant feeding industry may interfere with professionals’ unequivocal support for breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding gives all children the healthiest start in life. Breastmilk stimulates brain development and acts as a baby’s first vaccine. Breastfeeding lowers health-care costs, creating healthier families and a smarter workforce. It also protects mothers’ health. When mothers breastfeed, everyone benefits. Still, worldwide, only 43 per cent of children younger than six months are exclusively fed breastmilk. By age two, only 46 per cent receive any breastmilk at all. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are leading a global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative to increase the political commitment for breastfeeding, which is one of the smartest investments a country can make. The Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative seeks to join forces with partners who are also working to realize the Sustainable Development Goals’ vision of a better world. Our aim is to integrate agendas, messages, and advocacy, so we can maximize our collective influence. Together, we will go further than any of us could alone.
The aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes creates a major barrier to breastfeeding. Studies show that these tactics reduce breastfeeding rates, putting both children’s and mothers’ health at risk. Consequently, countering this industry’s marketing practices and promoting the benefits of breastfeeding are top advocacy priorities. Breastmilk substitutes (BMS) include all milk products-such as infant formula, follow-up formula, and growing up milks- marketed for use by infants and children up to 36-months old. Inappropriate and unnecessary use of BMS is associated with an increase in the risk of respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, as well as an increase in deaths in children under five. Despite the World Health Assembly’s prohibition on all BMS promotion, manufacturers still make unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of their products. BMS manufacturers spend millions of dollars annually to promote their products. These efforts are highly successful, and the sales of BMS are projected to increase from US$45 billion in 2014 to US$71 billion in 2019. The widespread promotion of BMS leads to the circulation of misinformation about breastfeeding which influences the decisions that families make about feeding their infants and young children. Aggressive marketing of BMS products influences nutritional decisions that impact children throughout their lives. This is why BMS products cannot safely be marketed in the same way as other food or dairy products. The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes was adopted to protect families from the industry’s aggressive marketing tactics. Since its adoption, the Code has been regularly updated by World Health Assembly resolutions, which have addressed new scientific evidence on breastfeeding and the BMS industry’s new products and promotional tactics. When the Code is successfully implemented, it protects families from the misinformation and commercial pressures that can dissuade women from breastfeeding. Repeatedly, the World Health Assembly has called on governments to give effect to the provisions in the Code through national, legally-binding regulations. Unfortunately, the Code has not been uniformly implemented. And monitoring efforts have highlighted consistent violations in many countries. These violations include: Using advertising and social media to promote BMS, bottles, and teats to the general public and to health-care systems; Distributing free samples to mothers; Enticing customers to buy BMS products using sales inducements such as special offers or price reductions; Publicizing health claims on labels or other BMS materials; Idealizing BMS products in text or images;  Providing free supplies of BMS, bottles, or teats to health facilities; Sponsoring the education and meetings of health workers.
Now that you know, be aware.

Source: ADVOCACY BRIEF Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes by WHO and UNICEF
Ton Haverkort