CAP, an affiliate member of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), joins the international breastfeeding advocates, this month, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the WHO-Unicef International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the Code).
The Code aims to shield breastfeeding from commercial promotion that affects mothers, health workers and health care systems. The Code prohibits promotional devices such as discounts and special displays at the retail level. Furthermore, Company representatives should not initiate direct or indirect contact with mothers. The Code also prohibits health professionals from receiving gifts, travel grants, bursaries from formula milk companies.
It should be recalled that WHO also recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age with continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to 2 years of age or longer. Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed their children for at least 1 year. Hence the Code aims at protecting breastfeeding mothers against commercial influence.
Ironically, Mauritius has always expressed its support to the WHO-UNICEF International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Yet, for the past fourteen, there has not been any initiative to enforce provisions of the Code. On the contrary, companies are freely violating the Code. Code violations, such as adverts in favour of feeding bottles and teats, gifts to health professionals, dedicated shelves in retail shops, are common. Unfortunately, health professionals are still lagging behind in abiding by the Code. Long awaited provisions within the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act to ban all advertisements of breast-milk substitutes do not seem to be realized soon.
Consultations initiated by the ministry of Health in favour of a Breastfeeding Bill in 2007 have never had any follow-up.
CAP reiterates its call to Government to realize its commitment to the WHO Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding and the WHO-Unicef International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
In view of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the Code) by the 34th World Health Assembly, CAP urges Government to translate its commitment to the Code into reality through the enactment of a Breastfeeding Bill. .