UNICEF welcomes the new Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes
Maputo, 22 December 2005 - The Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes which recently came into law, is one of the latest major achievements for millions of infants in Mozambique. UNICEF praises the Government for this firm step and urges for continued commitment to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
The Code, jointly approved this November by the Ministers of Health and Industry and Commerce, is a result of many years of advocacy efforts which included UNICEF support to the government in drafting the document. In order to effectively protect and promote the breastfeeding, the new code regulates essential aspects regarding the marketing of breast milk substitutes and strongly recommends that they only be used when absolutely necessary.
Even in the midst of the severe drought Mozambique is facing for the fourth consecutive year, breastfeeding must be promoted as vital for the health, nutrition, survival and protection for every infant.
“In emergency and disaster situations breastfeeding is usually the only way to guarantee safe feeding for infants. Breastfed children are also the most likely to survive when epidemics occur”, said UNICEF Representative, Leila Pakkala.
Breast milk alone is the ideal nourishment for infants during the first six months of life as it contains all the nutrients, antibodies, hormones, immune factors and antioxidants an infant needs to thrive. It protects babies from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections and stimulates their immune systems.
Leila Pakkala observed: “today it is clearer than ever that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued sustained breastfeeding with introduction of complementary food make a significant contribution to the survival, health, development, nutrition and emotional well-being of the young child”.
The risk of mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS through breastfeeding is a major challenge in countries like Mozambique, with high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates. However, once accompanied by the provision of necessary testing and counselling, the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life is crucial for the healthy growth and development of infants.
Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that governments must ensure that all sectors of society know about the positive benefits of breastfeeding. In this regard, UNICEF supports the favourable policies adopted by the Government of Mozambique to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, including the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, baby-friendly hospitals and health care to ensure the best practices on breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is a fundamental component in assuring the right of the child to food, health and care. Governments and communities should embrace and support this right”, said Leila Pakkala.
Read all about UNICEF's support to breastfeeding and child survival at http://www.unicef.org/