Saturday, November 11, 2006

International campaign aims to save Philippines baby milk marketing law - and infant

I was posting this on my forum and thought I should put this here too. Now regardless on your views on breastmilk versus formula I think we can all agree on this being very important:

Just saw this on Belly Belly and wanted to share this here as well for anyone interested.

First a quote to highlight why this is important:

The Philippines is amongst the 42 countries accounting for 90% of under-5 deaths. 82,000 children die each year before their 5th birthday. Improving breastfeeding rates is the single most effective action that can be taken to prevent these deaths, with the potential to save 1.3 million lives every year across the 42 countries (Ref: Black et al. Where and why are 10 million children dying every year? Lancet 2003;361:2226-34).

Amongst the 56 countries where National Demographic and Health Survey are available the Philippines ranks lowest for figures of children ever breastfed and only 16% are breastfed exclusively at 4-5 months. The World Health Assembly recommendation is exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age, followed by continued breastfeeding to 2 years of age and beyond.

Unfortunately despite all this, baby food manufacturers go all out to prey on these countries and vulnerable mothers who regardless of the nutritional benefits of breast milk versus formula are the very mothers who can't even afford their products which leads to disastrous consequences. For example imagine what happens to the mother and child when she runs out of free formula and her milk has dried up...

For a background on this check out this article suck on this.

Anyway this is the email on bellybelly that I wanted to pass on:

Details at

We are working closely with our partner organisation ARUGAAN - a member of the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), who are asking for international support.

You can help.

The Philippines government has introduced strengthened regulations for the marketing of baby foods. Practices recently reported in the Philippines allege that baby food company practices include targeting mothers with 'mothering classes', offering financial incentives and travel tours for health workers (one newspaper report refers to health centre staff members receiving 500 pesos for every 10 infants converted to use a particular brand of breastmilk substitutes). Community health workers (known as Barangay health workers), pediatricians and other health workers are provided with gifts such as t-shirts and jackets.

The regulations are the culmination of many years of campaigning by IBFAN nationally and internationally. Baby Milk Action - and supporters such as you - have played their part. For example, people have written letters after we have exposed Nestlé staff posing as community health workers to promote formula and its targeting of mothers with direct mail.

The new regulations are under attack, with US companies filing a legal action in court. IBFAN has exposed that the US Chamber of Commerce recently wrote to President Arroyo suggesting that she interfere in the court case for the benefit of future investment in the country. It appears this may have been successful as on 15 August 2006 the court reversed an earlier ruling and blocked the new marketing regulations from coming into force.

The Government and campaigners in the Philippines are simply implementing international marketing standards adopted by the World Health Assembly and closing the loopholes in existing legislation to protect their infants.

We are asking for people and organisations around the world to sign a petition of solidarity, publicly declaring their support for the efforts being made to protect infant health.

You can also write to the companies to ask them to stop opposing the regulations and to stop their aggressive marketing.

Please see our Campaign for Ethical Marketing action sheet at

This includes pictures of community activists in the Philippines, the people who are asking for our help. It also links to a recent German TV programme graphically showing that regulating the marketing of baby foods is a life and death issue.

Please help. It will only take a few minutes.

This type of action has worked in the past.

Feel free to pass this email on to others. If you have received it from and do not wish to receive future alerts, please reply with 'delete' as the subject. If you have a new email address, please give the details in an email with the subject 'change'.

Look out for updates on our website and my blog, which is updated each weekday at

Best wishes,

Mike Brady
Mike Brady
Campaigns and Networking Coordinator
Baby Milk Action

Visit our website

Baby Milk Action is the UK member of the International Baby Food Action Network - IBFAN -


Baby Milk Action, 34 Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QY, UK.
UK contact numbers. Tel: 01223 464420 Fax: 01223 464417
International contact numbers. Tel: +44 1223 464420 Fax: +44 1223 464417

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