Breastfeeding Advocates in the Philippines

Breastfeeding advocates hit promo
By Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star)
Updated August 16, 2012
MANILA, Philippines –
Breastfeeding advocates yesterday denounced the proposed Breastfeeding Promotion and Infant Formula Regulation Act pending in the House of Representatives, saying it does not serve the interest of the Filipino people, but rather propagates the commercial interests of multi-national companies.
Innes Fernandez, lead convener of Save the Babies Coalition, said the true intention of the bill is to water down the Milk Code or Executive Order 51.
Under the measure, milk companies will be allowed to advertise their products intended for children over six months; conduct promotion on breastfeeding and child care; give information, education, and communication materials about breastfeeding and infant and young child care; place health and nutritional claims on their products; and donate infant formula during times of disaster, calamities, and emergency cases.
But Fernandez noted that these provisions are prohibited under EO 51 signed by former President Corazon Aquino in October 1986 based on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly. It was given a very good rating by the Breastfeeding Scorecard, and was positively noted by the Concluding Observation of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child in 2009.
Fernandez said the lawmakers supporting the bill were “misled, misinformed, and even deceived to believe that the proposed bill will help improve the health and welfare of children and women.”
Even various medical professional organizations released a position statement on the consolidated House Bill on breastfeeding.
The group expressed dissent over the attempts to “substantively amend the existing breastfeeding-related laws” which have shown positive impact in improving breastfeeding rates in the country.
“The efforts at amending the existing Milk Code serve only the interests of multi-national milk and infant feeding industry, but leave pregnant and lactating mothers in confusion, endangering the health of our children,” the statement read.
The bill is a substitution of House Bills No. 3396, 3525, 3527, 3537 as approved by the Technical Working Group on July 2.
Fernandez said the consolidated bill includes provisions authored by Representatives Magtanggol Gunigundo, Josephine Veronique Lacson-Noel, Lani Mercado-Revilla, Lucy Torres-Gomez and Rufus Rodriguez.

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