Global Congress To Counter Harmful Marketing Of Formula Milk Opens In Geneva

Geneva will host the inaugural Global Congress on the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

During the three-day event, which kicks off on Tuesday, delegates from around 130 countries will discuss and share knowledge and strategies to end the unethical marketing of breast-milk substitutes.

The Global Congress is co-hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Formula milk manufacturing companies continue to violate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, established four decades ago, placng commercial interests before children’s and families’ health, WHO says.

Subsequent WHA resolutions have repeatedly called upon national governments to enact, monitor and enforce the provisions of the Code. The response to calls to action launched by WHO and UNICEF has been inadequate and further underscore the need for stronger government regulations.

Dr Francesco Branca, Director of Nutrition and Food Safety at WHO, said only 70 percent of Member States have enacted legislation that puts in place at least some of the provisions of the Code.

“But industries are still expanding to push an ever-increasing range of formula milk products on families, using insidious tactics to access their networks and influence their choices. Parents have the right to impartial information on infant feeding, which is actively undermined by exploitative industry marketing,” he added.

Most countries do not have active systems to monitor marketing practices, and enforcement provisions are typically weak.

During the three-day Congress, countries will share their experiences on the challenges they face in fully implementing the Code; develop national work plans to strengthen legislation, monitoring and enforcement relating to its provisions; and build regional networks to share information and support national action.

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