The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says it has prohibited the promotion and sales of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) in health facilities.
Rahila Maishanu, BMS Desk Officer, NAFDAC, Kaduna Office stated this in Zaria, at a one-day training of health workers on the BMS Code and its compliance.
The Training was organised by the state Primary Health Care Board in collaboration with NAFDAC and supported by a global nutrition initiative, Alive & Thrive, under its Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition programme.
Maishanu said that the prohibition was in line with the International Code for Marketing of BMS adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981 to promote, protect and support optimal breastfeeding practices.
She described breastfeeding as a “high impact, low technology, cost effective” intervention for child survival and optimal cognitive development and sustainability.
She said, however, that sadly that the practice was still very low with a national average for early initiation of breastfeeding at 23 per cent, while Kaduna state was at 13 per cent.
She added that the national average for exclusive breastfeeding stood at 34.4 per cent with Kaduna State a little bit higher at 41 per cent.
She attributed part of the problem to the aggressive marketing and promotion of BMS among mothers in communities including health facilities.
The desk officer said that the BMS Code and National Regulation among other things, prohibited the promotion of BMS and related products, including the distribution of free or low-cost supplies in health facilities.
“It also prohibits the advertisement of BMS and related products such as feeding bottles, cereals, teats, pacifiers, breast bump, juice, and baby teas among others to the public or at health facilities.
“The Code equally prohibits the provision of samples of any milk or infant formula marketed for feeding infants and young children and related products to pregnant women, new mothers, or their families.
“There shall be no company sales representatives to advise mothers or provide gifts or personal samples to health workers.
“No healthcare facility shall allow manufacturers or distributors of the BMS to use their facilities for commercial events, contests, or campaigns among other prohibitions,” she said.
She said that NAFDAC was empowered by law to implement, monitor, and enforce the provision of the International Code of Marketing BMS, under the provisions of the NAFDAC Act Cap N1 LFN 2004.
She said that the BMS Code served as a weapon to protect breastfeeding from the negative impact of aggressive advertising and marketing techniques by infant food manufacturers on breastfeeding practices.
Maishanu said that the Code was developed as a global public health strategy to protect breastfeeding mothers from the aggressive marketing of baby foods and ensure safe feeding and better nutrition for babies.
“The implementation and enforcement of the Code is aimed at protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding, by ensuring appropriate marketing and distribution of BMS.
“The aim is to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by the protection and promotion of optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) for child survival, growth, and development.
“It was also to protect breastfeeding from the inappropriate marketing practices of Infant food manufacturers and distributors and to build the confidence of mothers to adopt best IYCF practices.
“It also ensures the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, when necessary, by providing adequate information and through appropriate marketing and distribution,” she said.
She stressed the need for the health workers to arm themselves with knowledge about the code and the national regulation to be able to do what was best for the children.