UNICEF Commends Viet Nam on Banning Advertisement of Breastmilk Substitutes for Children under 24 Months
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective interventions to save lives of young children, contributing to prevent 13% of all under 5 deaths. © UNICEF Viet Nam\2007\Doan Bao Chau
Ha Noi, 21 June 2012 – UNICEF Viet Nam’s Representative, Ms. Lotta Sylwander, today applauded the Government of Viet Nam on passing the Law on Advertisement which includes a ban on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes for children under 24 months. The Law on Advertisement is meant to regulate the rights and obligations of organisations and individuals related to advertising.
Strengthening and enforcing laws to protect children’s health
The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes does not prohibit the production and sale of breastmilk substitutes. However it covers the improper marketing and promotion of food products that compete with breastfeeding as they are important factors that often negatively affect the choice and ability of a mother to breastfeed optimally. Given the special vulnerability of infants and the risks involved in inappropriate feeding practices, usual marketing practices are unsuitable for these products.
“This vote shows strong and serious commitment to international conventions such as the CRC, which Viet Nam is a signatory of. It also shows the National Assembly cares for Viet Nam’s future generations”, said a member of the National Assembly.
There is no substitute for breastmilk
“The scientific evidence is clear: breastfeeding gives children the best start in life. The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and scientists and doctors worldwide recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, along with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age and beyond. It is the best option for Vietnamese families and the best choice for the nation”, Ms. Lotta Sylwander said.
“However, this life- and cost-saving practice faces serious threats. Vietnamese families must often overcome their doctor’s skepticism that a mother’s milk is enough for her child. At maternity hospitals, mothers may be bombarded with persuasive marketing that undermines their confidence to breastfeed, idealises artificial feeding, and does not warn of the risks of not breastfeeding. Products on the market can be labeled with misleading information and images”, Ms. Sylwander added.
The next step is now to ensure that this new legislation is put into practice, and that mothers and communities are educated on the importance of breastfeeding their babies exclusively. UNICEF and its partners Alive & Thrive and WHO will carry on supporting the Vietnamese government in doing so, and continue to work at the community level to disseminate information, develop the capacities of key stakeholders such as health workers and guarantee that all primary health care facilities provide skilled counseling and support for breastfeeding to ensure that all mothers have access to these services close to their homes.
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF Viet Nam and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org/vietnam
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