NAFDAC, partners decry violation of Breastmilk Code

  Propose lactation rooms in organisations 

By Chioma Obinna

The continued violation of the International code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) and national regulations by manufacturers of BMS products as well as ignorance of health practitioners, who have constantly supported the wrong practice, contributed to the unacceptable rate of exclusive breastfeeding and young infant feeding in the country.

The World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the Code in 1981 as a global health public strategy to protect breastfeeding from aggressive promotional campaigns by milk formula manufacturers.

The Code recommends restrictions on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, such as infant formula, to ensure that mothers are not discouraged from breastfeeding and that substitutes are used safely.

Making the assertion in Lagos during a one –day workshop, organised by Alive and Thrive/FHI 360 in collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, the Acting Director-General of the Agency, Mrs. Yetunde Oni said these challenges have eroded the importance of appropriate infant and young child feeding, hence the resultant effect on national economic development cannot be overemphasized.

Oni who was represented by the Deputy Director, Food System and Applied Nutrition, NAFDAC, Abdulsalam Ozigis, said NAFDAC has necessitated the need for Regulatory Agency in collaboration with relevant partners to aggressively address the unpleasant situation through interventions including effective sensitization of all stakeholders, especially the healthcare providers.

Oni at the workshop entitled: “Compliance with the Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitute” who declared that the agency would no longer tolerate such violation currently being practiced in Nigeria blamed some health practitioners, who have constantly supported the wrong practice.

She further identified poor monitoring and enforcement due to its status as a regulation as one of the challenges that have continued to undermine efforts to improve Infant Young Child Feeding, IYCF, practices in the country.

Pointing out that infant nutrition is imperative to the survival of children, she said: “It is one of the most cost-effective interventions to improve child’s health and survival. The widespread availability and inappropriate advertising and sensitization of BMS have a significant impact on the decisions that families make about nutrition,” he added.

She said following the recent Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration for National Development, the agency has put in place measures to penalize violators.

Representing   the Project Director, Alive&Thrive/FHI 360, Mr. Victor Ogbodo, Lagos State Team Lead, Dr. Uche Ralph-Opara called for establishment of lactation rooms in the office places as part of efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the country.

Ogbodo who spoke on health and economic benefits of optimal breastfeeding, said exclusive breastfeeding averts about 100, 000 infant deaths and adds more than $150 million to the country’s economy yearly, according to a New report in Lancet Breastfeeding Series.  He also regretted that there are a lot of challenges facing the practice, which can be influenced by policies.





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