WHA Must Act Decisively On, End Breast Milk Substitute Marketing, Opinion Piece Says

Devex: Opinion: What the makers of breast milk substitutes are doing on social media — and why it matters
Sandra Remancus, director of Alive & Thrive

“…As [the World Health Assembly (WHA)] reconvenes this week, it is expected to take up an issue that requires urgent attention, particularly during the time of COVID-19: the digital marketing of breast milk substitutes, or BMS. The need for this discussion is urgent. Every year, hundreds of thousands of children and mothers die due to inadequate breastfeeding. And research suggests that in the middle of the pandemic — as has occurred during past health crises — mothers and other caregivers who are concerned about the health of their children are having their fears played on. … According to research on the impact of BMS marketing, such promotion not only discourages breastfeeding, but imposes a heavy triple blow on the nutrition of mothers and children. As well as depriving infants and mothers of breastfeeding’s clear health benefits, it imposes costs on families and health systems … WHA needs to act decisively and send a clear message to member states and to companies: These promotions are wrong and must be stopped. The meeting should highlight the harmful practices and violations of the international code and call for member states to enforce laws on curbing this marketing where such regulations exist and to pass relevant laws where they do not…” (11/13).

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