ew research recently published by the UK based Interagency Group on Breastfeeding Monitoring (IGBM) reveals that Nestlé and other leading manufacturers of baby milk products are violating the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes. The IGBM, a coalition of 27 churches, academic institutions, experts on infant feeding and leading agencies, including UNICEF-UK, Save the Children, and Voluntary Services Overseas, reports that their research conclusively demonstrates that the major infant formula manufacturers continue to breach the International Code despite its passage 15 years ago.
In a document entitled Cracking the Code, the IGBM documents violations by companies that include Gerber, Mead Johnson, Nestlé, Nutricia and Wyeth in all four countries studied-Bangladesh, Poland, South Africa and Thailand. In each country 800 pregnant women and mothers and 120 health workers in 40 facilities were interviewed.
In a press release dated January 8, 1997 the IGBM reports that:
Women in all four countries were found to receive company sponsored information which promoted artificial feeding without recognizing breastfeeding as the optimal form of infant nutrition. Results were highest in Poland where over one-third of mothers (36%) received such information-39% came from Nutricia and 17% from Gerber. In South Africa 28% of mothers had received such information; Nestlé supplied nearly half (48%).
Further the IGBM calls on:
As usual the IFM was in denial and rejected the report. In a release dated Jan 7, Dr. Andrée Bronner, Secretary general of the IFM claimed "the IFM supports the WHO Code" and charged that the IGBM report was "biased in design and execution." Calling for transparent, impartial and effective Code monitoring, the IFM accused the IGBM of having links to activists (those who promote breastfeeding-surely!) and the IFM claimed that they were unaware of the IGBM research (bogus again!).
In response the IGBM issued a second press release to clarify its research methodology:
"With regard to the experimental design used for the research, the random sampling framework used to investigate the violations is a standard, epidemiologically sound technique used by governments, research organizations, WHO, UNICEF and others to assess the prevalence of health conditions internationally.
"With regard to the protocol for the research and IFM's awareness of it; a letter was sent to IFM on June 11th with the protocol including inviting to comment which they acknowledged on June 27th.
The representatives from the IGBM are very disappointed with the IFM's response. The aim of conducting this research was to provide objective data in order to open a dialogue between the IFM and others to find a way forward to better implement the International Code."
Contact INFACT Canada for a full copy of Cracking the Code.
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