Protection and promotion of breastfeeding and marketing of products under the scope of the international code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes in Southeast Asia
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Background and aim: Breastfeeding is crucial for child survival and development, and exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of the infant’s life, with continued breastfeeding until two years of age and beyond. Marketing of breastmilk substitutes has a negative impact on the recommended breastfeeding behaviour, and interferes with maternal and child rights. The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code) was launched to guide breastfeeding promotion and regulate breastmilk substitutes marketing. The aim of this study is to examine the protection of breastfeeding through international recommendations and national measures adopting provisions from the Code, as well as the breastfeeding promotion and breastmilk substitutes marketing through mass media in five Southeast Asian countries. Methods: Media clips collected from January 2015 to January 2016 through media monitoring services were analysed, in addition to international frameworks in support of the protecting of breastfeeding and national measures for implementation of the Code. Relevant provisions from the Code were chosen to assess compliance. Results: Several international recommendations and human rights conventions are in support of breastfeeding. All the five countries studied had national measures for implementation of provisions from the Code, either legally enforceable or voluntary. “Growing-up milk” for children above 12 months was the most common product advertised for, counting for more than two thirds of the collected advertisement clips. Social medias were used by companies to promote all categories of breastmilk substitutes. Conclusions: Despite international frameworks and national measures to promote and protect breastfeeding, breastmilk substitutes are marketed through various media outlets. Companies are in violation of the Code, hindering states to fulfil their obligation to protect breastfeeding. There is a need for strengthening of national measures for implementation of the Code, especially in expanding the covered age range and better monitor compliance on social media outlets.
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