THE Women’s Institute (WI) will hold a TV forum on the ‘International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes’, which is scheduled to take place at the Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB) studio in the capital at 1.30pm on September 29.
The forum, which has been made possible in cooperation with the the Ministry of Health is aimed at raising awareness on the dangers of marketing breast milk substitutes in the form of infant formula that is dangerous to both children and mothers.
In the 60s and 70s, the attention of the public and governments of the world were drawn to the decline in breastfeeding rates globally. There were growing concerns that inappropriate and aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes by baby food companies was contributing to an alarming decline in breastfeeding. Associated with this was an increase in malnutrition, morbidity and mortality rates among infants and young children worldwide.
In 1979, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) convened a meeting on this issue with representatives of governments, civil society, industry, and non-governmental organisations.
The meeting emphasised that poor infant-feeding practices and their consequences had long been a man-made problem and a serious obstacle to social and economic development.
The meeting recommended that “there should be an international code of marketing of infant formula and other products used as breast milk substitutes. This should be supported by exporting and importing countries and observed by all manufacturers.”
So in 1981, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted “The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes” as a recommendation under the constitution of the WHO.
The code is not legally binding, as it is a recommendation only. However, it is a collective expression of judgment from the collective membership of the highest authority on health and so carries moral and political weight.
In addition is the CRC which has been ratified by more than 192 state parties including Brunei Darussalam, which as a state party, is responsible for disseminating positive information and promoting breastfeeding through its healthcare system, media and schools as well as protecting the public from misinformation of the code.