: News Releases ::
The Honourable Allan Rock November 21, 2001
Room 441-S, Centre Block,
House of Commons,
Dear Mr. Rock,
The Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) Canada is a non-profit organization that works to promote, protect and support breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding practices. A major focus for INFACT Canada is the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the development of policies both nationally and internationally that protect the nutrition and health of infants and young children.
We wish to draw to your attention the landmark resolution of the World Health Assembly this past May which recommended that governments undertake,
“innovative approaches to improving infant and young child feeding, emphasizing exclusive breastfeeding for six months as a global public health recommendation, taking into account the findings of the WHO expert consultation on optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding1, the provision of safe and appropriate complementary foods, with continued breastfeeding to two years or beyond…” 1. WHO A54/INF.DOC./4
INFACT Canada is pleased that Canada played a supportive and constructive role in the development of WHA Resolution 54.2. We now look to you for further action to include this important resolution into Canada’s infant feeding policies.
Canada’s infant feeding policy document entitled Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants Statement of the Joint Working Group: Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada and Health Canada was published in 1998. Although this document has some important infant feeding recommendations such as breastfeeding continuation for up to two years and recommendations for active support such as counseling and community and workplace based programs, the document remains controversial. The passage of WHA 54.2 provides opportunity for revision and updating to be consistent with current global recommendations.
We also wish to draw to your attention the need to ensure that those who make nutrition recommendations for Canadian infants and young children be independent of commercial interests. Key authors of the 1998 edition of Nutrition for Healthy Term Infants are closely linked to infant formula and complementary food companies. We strongly recommend that such conflict of interest should not be present in making public policy recommendations. We also wish to be assured that Health Canada institute ethical regulations to protect Canadian children from such conflict.
We also note that the 1998 document only makes one reference to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and then does so incorrectly. The International Code and all its subsequent Resolutions related to infant and young child nutrition is supported by Canada at the World Health Assembly. This important document is a recommendation to all Member States. Despite Canada’s endorsement our government has done little to give meaning to its requirements for more than 20 years. A revision of the Nutrition for Health Term Infants could be one important area to integrate the International Code’s key breastfeeding protection provisions into policy.
Additionally we wish to recommend that broad based consultations take place to review and update Canada’s infant feeding policies. Such consultations should include parents, leaders from mother-to-mother support groups, participants from the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada, members of the Canadian Pediatric Society, Dietitians of Canada, the Canadian Lactation Association and other independent researchers in infant and young child feeding.
INFACT Canada is prepared to support and actively participate in such a revision. We look forward to your response and working together with you to ensure the best possible health for Canada’s children and their mothers.
Elisabeth Sterken, BSc, MSc, nutritionist
INFACT Canada/IBFAN North America
Dr. Jack Newman, MD, FRCP
Chairperson of the Board of Directors of INFACT Canada
Dr. Suzanne Dionne, MD
Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors INFACT Canada
Director INFACT Quebec
INFACT Canada Board of Directors
Canadian Lactation Consultant Association – Ms. Marion Brown
La Leche League of Canada – Ms. Carol Luck
Breastfeeding Committee of Canada – Ms. Marilyn Sanders
Canadian Pediatric Society – Dr. Jack Holland
Dietitians of Canada – Ms. Georgette Harris/Ms. Marsha Sharp
Canadian Public Health Association – Mr. Gerald Dafoe