Infant Formula Monitoring
Santo Domingo.- Misleading advertising and commercial promotion of breast milk substitutes and infant formulas is one of the leading factors behind the low rate of breastfeeding in the country, according to the findings of a monitoring study carried out by the National Breastfeeding Commission, with an emphasis on promotion and distribution activities.
This monitoring exercise took place in public and private health centres, sales points like pharmacies, shops and supermarkets, in the media, as well as examining the relevant product labelling.
The results of the monitoring study were presented to members of the media and to paediatricians so that these may also fulfil the important role that they play in breastfeeding promotion.
Commission coordinator, Dr. Clavel Sánchez, presented the findings during a meeting with journalists, calling on civil society representatives to work in partnership with the State to encourage breastfeeding.
At a meeting with paediatricians, UNICEF representative Tad Palac stressed that “it is a shame that the practice of breastfeeding has been allowed to fall by the wayside and has been replaced by infant formulas for purely economic benefits”, going on to emphasize his hope that in the future “all Dominican children may enjoy the great satisfaction and good health provided by breastfeeding”.
The study also found that health centres often fail to comply with this law, as materials promoting infant formula brands such as posters, control cards, leaflets, appointment reminder slips were observed, as well as the fact that some health centres accept donations from infant formula distributors, which commits them to recommend their products.
The distribution companies also use the communications media, like magazines aimed at mothers, to promote their products, without including statements about the superior nature of breast milk, or the recommended age for introducing complementary feeding and the negative effects of using bottles and teats.
As far as labelling is concerned, the use of forbidden images and information was also observed, because according to the law images of infants should not be displayed on the packaging or on the label, and the text should not idealise the use of these products.
About Law 8-95
In article 9 the law bans advertising of bottles, teats and pacifiers at all public and private health centres, as well as visits by promoters to these centres. It also establishes that nobody should promote these products at sales points or anywhere else.
By Julissa Montilla
About the Breast Milk Substitutes Code
In October 1979 the WHO and UNICEF organised an international meeting on infant feeding with health professionals, nutritionists and industry representatives.
During the meeting, the need for a code to regulate inappropriate infant product marketing practices was accepted. Following 15 months of work, the final version was reached in May 1981 and the code, which calls for stimulating and protecting breastfeeding and controlling incorrect practices used for selling artificial feeding products, was approved.