PROTEST action “antibottle feeding”- Makati City

dear international partners in breastfeeding advocacy,

we are pleased to share with you a brief write-up on the protest action
done by save babies coalition, spearheaded by innes fernandez. as expected,
the activity received one small article in the philippine daily inquirer
and no reports at all on television — even though at least two tv news
crews covered the event.

we would appreciate it very much if you could post this story and the
attached photo on your websites and/or blogs. this will be up on the unicef
philippines website shortly.

thank you very much!


In the Philippines, mothers demand truth about infant formula

Over 100 formula feeding mothers and their babies protested in front of

infant formula manufacturers’ offices, claiming milk advertisements have

deceived them into giving their babies infant formula instead of


“My message to the milk companies is to stop deceiving those who buy

infant formula,” says Nadine Sylvano, mother of five children. “They say

that their milk is good for children’s brains, will make children

healthy, stout and give strong bones. But it’s not true.”

“My breastfed child did not get sick often but this one, almost every

month I have to bring her again to the hospital because she is sick

again,” Sylvano observed.

When asked why she did not breastfeed her fifth child, Sylvano replies,

“Because I did not have milk from my breasts.”

Sylvano’s experience is a common one. According to the National

Statistics Office, 31 per cent of mothers in the Philippines do not

breastfeed because they believe that they do not have enough milk.

Only 16 per cent of babies four to five months of age are still

exclusively breastfeeding.

Even though UNICEF and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding in the

first six months of life, half of all babies in the Philippines are

exclusively breastfed for less than one month.

Aggressive advertising and marketing of infant formula has undermined

mothers’ confidence in their ability to nourish their children, claims

Innes Fernandez, convenor of Save Babies Coalition.

“They were all cheated, they were all beguiled by all this false

advertising, marketing activities that seduce them to buy their formula,

believing the testimonials of celebrities so they were always hoping and

wishing that they would have healthy babies,” Fernandez adds.

Milk companies aver that they also advocate for breastfeeding but want

to give consumers a choice.

“We believe… breastfeeding is best for babies,” says Andrew Santos,

Vice-President of Wyeth Philippines. “What we have there are products

that if the Mom chooses, or if for some reason she cannot breastfeed,

then she is given that on her own decision, to be able to, or the

paediatrician especially, to make a choice.”

Fernandez counters, however, that even medical doctors are unable to

make an informed choice about infant feeding.

Dr. Lester Lora, who used to manage the maternal and child health

programme in the Department of Health, says that even she was not

properly informed about breastfeeding.

“During our time, nobody taught us [in medical school] about

breastfeeding. Instead, we were taught how to prepare infant formula,”

Dr. Lora says.

As a result, she herself fed her three sons infant formula and blames it

for their lifelong battles with various diseases, from diabetes to

ulcerative colitis.

UNICEF has been supporting the Philippines Department of Health to more

strictly enforce the National Milk Code, which regulates the marketing

of breastmilk substitutes. However, in 2006, the Pharmaceutical and

Healthcare Association of the Philippines, made up of milk companies

among others, succeeded in appealing to the Supreme Court for a

temporary restraining order on the Code’s revised implementing rules and


In the meantime, infant formula advertisements continue to make claims

of health and cognitive benefits.

“Stop all these false claims,” demands Fernandez.


1 Comment »

  1. iskumbro said

    For Every Child
    Health, Education, Equality, Protection

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