World Vision urges congressmen to keep Milk Code intact

Monalinda Cadiz
World Vision Philippines is urging Filipinos to support breastfeeding as a way to fight malnutrition

MILK CODE. World Vision continues to be vigilant for any attempts of policymakers to amend and water down the Milk Code. Photo from World Vision.

MANILA, Philippines – The World Vision Development Foundation, a child-focused organization, will hand over to congressmen a petition with 5,000 signatures  urging them to oppose any amendments to the Milk Code.

The law protects breastfeeding by regulating the promotion of infant formula milk and other covered products.

The hand over of the petition is the culminating event of the Global Week of Action (GWA), a synchronized global event of World Vision national offices running from May 1 to May 8. 

The culminating event in the Philippines will be held on May 7, 2014, at the Pearl Hall in SEAMEO INNOTECH, Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.  The program starts at 10:30 am.  

The Global Week of Action is on its second year, and intends to continue to amplify the voice of women and children for better health. 

This is the intent of the Child Health Now Campaign, World Vision’s contribution to Millennium Development Goal 4 aiming to decrease under-5 mortality by two-thirds.   

Survive five

One in every 3 Filipino children under 5 years old suffers from chronic malnutrition, a condition mainly determined through stunting. (READ: Aiming for zero malnourished children)

Aside from delayed physical growth based on standard height-for-age, stunted children are at risk for poor mental development that is irreversible, and which affects adult health and productivity

Worse, chronic malnutrition, if left unattended, will worsen and may even cause child death. (WATCH: Why Peter Pan never really grew up)

According to a study published in the Lancet Medical Journal, malnutrition causes 45% of deaths in children under 5.  And yet there are simple and available solutions that can prevent these early deaths from happening. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) recommend optimal breastfeeding as the topmost strategy to prevent child malnutrition.

Ironically, only 27% of infants from birth until 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed, hence, are not given their optimum nutritional needs exclusively through breastfeeding. 

Continued breastfeeding from 6 months to two years or more should immediately follow exclusive breastfeeding for the child to receive the optimum benefits of the best source of nutrition needed for child growth and development.

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Support breastfeeding

World Vision advocates breastfeeding. 

Through its Child Health Now campaign, it has been purposedly complementing government programs and policies that aim to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. 

During the Global Week of Action, the Child Health Now Campaign gathered signatures from its national partners and from various communities nationwide  to support breastfeeding. 

The signatures support a petition calling on lawmakers to protect breastfeeding by opposing proposed amendments to the Milk Code.

“Compared to similar laws in other countries, the Milk Code in the Philippines with its revised implementing rules is one of the best adaptations of the International Code on the marketing of breastmilk substitutes,” said Dr Yvonette Duque, World Vision manager for Child Well-being Programming.

“Any attempt to amend EO 51 poses risks to the already existing Milk Code law, and so we propose for its full implementation rather than amendment, so that we can experience the full strength of this law that will redound to better child health” adds Duque.

President Corazon C. Aquino signed Executive Order 51 or the National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements and Other Related Products – the Milk Code – on October 20, 1986.

The World Vision action call to legislators through the Child Health Now campaign comes after 5 bills were passed in both houses of Congress seeking to repeal EO 51. 

World Vision works for this agenda with other non-governmental organizations that comprise the Philippine Coalition of Advocates for Nutrition Sustainability (PhilCAN), formerly the KAIN coalition.  Rappler.com

World Vision is a child-focused, relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and communities worldwide to overcome poverty and injustice. For more information, log on to www.worldvision.org.ph and learn how you can donate, volunteer, or sponsor a child.

Click here to learn about sponsoring breastfeeding kits.