From INFACT Canada:
On the 30th Anniversary of the International Code, companies continue to breach its provisions
On the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes the infant formula companies continue to breach its provisions.
In Canada the formula industry continues to violate the World Health Organization’s Code, which mandates these industries to restrict their marketing in order to protect breastfeeding and support government efforts to implement the recommend infant and young child feeding practices.
Both Health Canada and the Canadian Peadiatric Society recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding to two years and beyond with the introduction of high nutrient energy dense complementary foods.
In Canada the infant formula industries aggressively market their products by:
- providing free samples to pregnant women and new mothers;
- providing hospital discharge sample packs for new mothers;
- directly advertising their products to the public via all forms of media;
- using misleading and scientifically unproven nutrition and health claims to glamourise their products.
Companies that violate the health protective measures of the International Code must be held accountable both morally and financially for their actions that contribute to increased deaths, illness and chronic diseases linked to formula feeding. Children’s growth, development and health are far more important than the profit interests of the infant formula companies.
INFACT Canada urges Canada’s Minister of Health to enforce legislation that prohibits false advertising and to put in place a set of meaningful restrictions on the marketing of these products. The undermining of public health efforts to support mothers to breastfeed needs to stop.
INFACT Canada notes that Canada’s breastfeeding rates remain far from optimal; that the exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first six months is just over 16% (Canadian Perinatal Health report, 2008). How is it that 84% of mothers fall short of Health Canada’s recommendations for infant feeding?
The costs of the increased hospitalizations, the increased need for medical interventions, the increased costs of the cancers, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases are in the billions annually when children are not breastfed.
Canada’s Minister of Health must first and foremost be proactive to protect the health and well being of Canada’s most vulnerable population and actively support mothers by ensuring that the requirements of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and related World Health Assembly resolutions are adhered to by the formula and bottle-feeding industries. Protecting the profit interests of these industries is unacceptable.
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