In the cities of Makati, Caloocan, and Taguig, expect more breastfeeding rooms to be set up not only in public places like malls, supermarkets, and fast food chains, but also in the workplaces.
This is part of their decrees that help create enabling environments that support, promote, and protect breastfeeding practice in their cities.
Makati and Caloocan passed City Resolutions while Taguig City developed a City Ordinance that are in line with the Department of Health and World Health Organization’s recommendation on appropriate infant and child feeding practices. These are the preparation and initiation of exclusive breastfeeding within the first hour after birth, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond along with the introduction of appropriate complementary food.
Apart from the creation of breastfeeding rooms, the provisions also include:
• Strict enforcement of Section 8 of Executive Order 51, or the Milk Code, wherein health workers shall encourage and promote breastfeeding
• Arrangement of meetings, symposiums, seminars, and trainings among health workers regarding relevant breastfeeding legislations
• Engagement in massive promotion and support projects regarding breastfeeding
• Establishment of community support groups that aid pregnant and new mothers with breastfeeding and complementary feeding problems
• Monitoring and reporting of Milk Code Violations
The three cities also made clear pronouncements that their respective local governments, barangays, communities, workplaces, and health facilities will:
• Ban milk companies from supporting their activities, in line with the new implementing rules of EO 51
• Disallow health workers from promoting or selling infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes; and
• Prohibit marketing materials of infant formula and other breastmilk substitutes in public places
The DOH and WHO welcomed and praised these initiatives.
“We are very pleased with these encouraging developments,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said. “We give due credit to the local governments for recognizing the urgency of improving breastfeeding statistics in the country and the positive health impact of breastfeeding to infant and child health.”
The National Demographic and Health Survey show that only 16.1% are exclusively breastfed for 4 to 5 months of age and 13% of Filipino babies were never breastfed. As a result, many Filipino children suffer from diarrhea, pneumonia, asthma, allergies, chronic diseases, and even lower intelligence.
According to Sec. Duque, the local efforts will greatly help in curbing the rampant and invasive tactics by milk companies at the barangay level.
“We receive continuous reports on how milk companies do tactical marketing of their products in the guise of health seminars, parenting, family nutrition and child care,” he said. “They even scour confidential data on pregnant women and new mothers in communities to target them for their promotional efforts.”
“That’s why the efforts of Makati, Taguig, and Caloocan come at a very opportune time,” WHO country Dr. Soe Nyunt-U stated. “We hope that more cities follow their example as a concrete contribution to achieve the country’s goals on breastfeeding and improve the welfare of Filipino children.”
WHO estimates that 16,000 Filipino children under the age of five die each year due to inappropriate feeding practices. Medical studies show that these deaths could have been prevented with breastfeeding.