The status of laws to protect breastfeeding in most countries is inadequate, a new report by the WHO, UNICEF, and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) has revealed.
The report, dubbed: “Marketing of breast-milk substitutes: national implementation of the International Code – Status report 2016," was made available to the Ghana News Agency on Monday by Olivia Lawe Davies, Communications Officer, WHO Geneva.
It included tables showing, country by country, which Code measures have and have not been enacted into law.
Only 39 countries have laws that enact all provisions of the Code, a slight increase from 37 in 2011, the report stated.
According to the WHO and UNICEF, babies should be fed nothing but breast milk for their first six months, after which they should continue breastfeeding, as well as eating other safe and nutritionally adequate foods, until two years of age or beyond.
Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development said even though he finds it encouraging to see more countries pass laws to protect and promote breastfeeding, " there are still far too many places where mothers are inundated with incorrect and biased information through advertising and unsubstantiated health claims."
"This can distort parents’ perceptions and undermine their confidence in breastfeeding, with the result that far too many children miss out on its many benefits," he added.
The report revealed that breast-milk substitute business is a big one, with annual sales amounting to almost $ 45 billion worldwide. This is projected to rise by more than 55 per cent to $ 70 billion by 2019.
UNICEF Chief of Nutrition Werner Schultink said since the breast-milk substitutes industry is growing, it is necessary for all and sundry to highlight the rate of exclusive breastfeeding around the world.
Meanwhile, two out of three infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months, a rate that has not improved in two decades, the report said.