Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Just the facts!

We are working to promote and protect breastfeeding in the Philippines. We come from different sectors and all walks of life, but we are united by this common cause. To see why, just look at these facts:

  • 6 months - length of exclusive breastfeeding recommended by WHO and UNICEF for the best infant growth, development and health

  • less than 24 days - length of exclusive breastfeeding in the Philippines for half of all infants, down from 1.4 months in 1998 (National Demogoraphic and Health Survey, 2003)

  • 16% - percentage of babies who are exclusively breastfed for 4-5 months (NDHS, 2003)

  • 16,000 - number of child deaths per year that can be traced to inappropriate feeding, including the use of infant formula (WHO)

  • P430 million - amount spent yearly for hospitalization, health consultations and medicines for illnesses due to formula-feeding (WHO)

Source: Breastfeeding by the Numbers, UNICEF

One of our biggest challenges is to rigorously implement the National Milk Code (EO 51), which was signed into law in 1986. As expected, the infant formula companies, through the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), have been blocking our efforts to regulate how they market and promote their products. Our ally, Mike Brady, of Baby Milk Action, has a good summary of our struggles in his blog:

About the photo: Urban poor mothers protest misleading advertising by milk companies in the Philippines.
Photo credits: UNICEF/PHI/2007/Joan Bondoc

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