The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the first international code of its..

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes,
the first international code of its kind, was adopted by the World Health
Organisation (WHO) in 1981 and by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1984. The
code was intended to control the practices of those producing and selling
breastmilk substitutes and related products (e.g. feeding bottles),
particularly in developing countries. These countries tend to have relatively
high birth rates but weak economies. It can be argued that expenditure on
breastmilk substitutes is a misuse of a nations resources, when the natural

The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes,
the first international code of its kind, was adopted by the World Health
Organisation (WHO) in 1981 and by the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1984. The
code was intended to control the practices of those producing and selling
breastmilk substitutes and related products (e.g. feeding bottles),
particularly in developing countries. These countries tend to have relatively
high birth rates but weak economies. It can be argued that expenditure on
breastmilk substitutes is a misuse of a nations resources, when the natural
alternative is cost free and more nutritious for the child. However, to the
large corporations producing these products the markets of the developing world
represent significant profit opportunities. The problem had become so acute in
certain African countries that breastfeeding had become almost eradicated. The
international code bans free supplies of breastmilk substitutes in hospitals,
because once mothers leave hospital the breastmilk substitutes are no longer
free. Yet in 1996 Nestl_a significant producer of breastmilk substitutes, was
reported to be providing free and low-cost supplies of infant formula to
hospitals in Kunming Province in China. Save the Children reported: Nestl_as
made Lactogen widely available in six hospitals in Kunming, where it has
targeted health professionals with both free and discounted supplies of the
formula. This helps to create an incentive for the health workers, not only to
use the formula within the hospitals, but also actively to encourage its use among
mothers of newborn children. Lactogen has been displayed in some of the
hospitals for sale. The report prepared by our China staff and local health
workers alleged that there had been an increase in the consumption of Lactogen
and that breastfeeding rates had fallen. Despite getting companies to sign up
to the International Association of Infant Food Manufacturers (IFM) and in 1991
pledging to eradicate the supply of free and discounted supplies, a monitoring
report entitled Breaking the Rules, Stretching the Rules found that in 19 of
31 countries surveyed contraventions of the pledge were evident. In addition, a
study in Pakistan in 1998 found widespread use and distribution of free
supplies, with doctors being purchased by the companies.

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