The (NAFDAC) has called for national laws and regulations to enforce strict compliance of the International Breast Milk Substitute (BMS) code by manufacturers and marketers of infant formula.
According to TheGuardian, 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 if needed, as law to ensure compliance of the Code in Nigeria mandates the agency.
Speaking at a one-day workshop on “Compliance with the Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitute”, organized by NAFDAC in collaboration with Alive and Thrive/FHI 360, the Acting Director General. NAFDAC, Yetunde Oni, represented by the Deputy Director, Food System and Applied Nutrition, NAFDAC, Abdulsalam Ozigis, said one of the key challenges facing optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices in Nigeria is the continued violation of the code by producers and marketers of BM, which have eroded the importance of appropriate infant and young child feeding, hence its resultant effect on national economic development cannot be overemphasized.
She noted that poor monitoring and enforcement due to its status as a regulation and not a law, continued to undermine efforts to improve IYCF practices in the country, stressing that infant nutrition is imperative to the survival, mental and physical development of the Nigerian child.
Oni, who blame some health professionals for encouraging the act, said there was need to strengthen sensitization of all stakeholders, especially the healthcare providers, to ensure an enabling environment for improved IYCF practices in communities in the country, adding that with the recent Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration for National development in the country, the agency have put in place measures to penalize violators of the code.
Speaking on the health and economic benefits of optimal breastfeeding, which averts about 100, 000 infant deaths and adds more than $150 million to the Nigerian economy yearly, according to a New report in Lancet Breastfeeding Series, the Associate Director/State team Lead, Alive and Thrive/FHI 360, Lagos State, Dr. Uche Ralph-Opara said exclusive breastfeeding, with the current economic recession, helps save money, as a tin of formula is expensive, and only lasts for two weeks depending on the baby’s consumption.
She stressed that there are lots of challenges facing the practice, which can be influenced by policies, as the organization is working towards achieving longer maternal leave or entitlement for the working breastfeeding mothers to enable them engage in the practice properly, adding that organisations should have lactation rooms where the working nursing mothers can bring their babies and then breastfeed them to meet up with the international code.
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