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The International Code

The World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981 to protect and promote breastfeeding, through the provision of adequate information on appropriate infant feeding and the regulation of the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, bottles and teats In subsequent years additional resolutions have further defined and strengthened the Code.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast -Milk substitutes

UNICEF/HQ93-0986/ NICOLE TOUTOUNJI
A mother breastfeeds the younger of her two children seated on the steps of their house, in the region of Iklim El Teffah in southern Lebanon.

The Code prohibits the advertisement or promotion of these products to the general public or through the health care system. All governments should adopt the Code into national legislation. To date, 24 governments have adopted all of the Code's provisions into law, while a further 55 have partially adopted them.

 

 

Here are some of the innovative strategies developed to implement the Code:

In Iran, the Government has taken control of the import and sale of breastmilk substitutes. Formula is available only by prescription, and the tins must carry a generic label - no brand names, pictures or promotional messages are allowed.

In India, legislation requires that tins of infant formula carry a conspicuous warning about the potential harm caused by artificial feeding, placed on the central panel of the label.

In Papua New Guinea, the sale of feeding bottles, cups, teats and dummies is strictly controlled, and there is a ban on advertising these products as well as breastmilk substitutes.

If you are interested in establishing or strengthening the Code in your country, please contact your National Breastfeeding Committee, your local UNICEF office, or UNICEF National Committee.