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Thursday, March 25, 2010
Expanded Breastfeeding Law - Part 1
March is Women's Month and what better way to celebrate it than with the passage of the long-awaited Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009. Signed into law last March 16, 2010 (Araw ng Davao - my hometown!), Republic Act No. 10028 amends and adds to the earlier law, Republic Act No. 7600 known as "The Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992".
The principal author of the law is Sen. Pia Cayetano (who is running for re-election this May 2010 and will definitely get my vote) with whom my very good friend, Deegee, works with. Deegee was telling me how supportive Sen. Pia was of her pumping at work and whenever they have out of town events or activities. You can read Sen. Pia's sponsorship speech here. I remember that as early as 2007, there was already a proposal to amend R.A. 7600 but it was only in 2010 when the new law was finally signed.
Whenever I join the L.A.T.C.H. classes, I usually take the module on "Going Back to Work". My common refrain would be the short length of Pinoy mom's maternity leaves (60 days for normal delivery and 72 days for caesarian). I perused through RA 10028 and was very happy to see that it had several relevant provisions for working nursing moms.
First, under the Declaration of Policy (Sec. 2) a whole paragraph for working moms was added, obliging the State to "protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions," by promoting and encouraging breastfeeding and providing specific measures that would present opportunities for mothers to continue expressing their milk and/or breastfeeding their infant or young child. I love how the provision includes young child -- which includes kids up to 36 months old!
The coverage of the law is also expanded to include ALL PRIVATE ENTERPRISES as well as GOVERNMENT AGENCIES (woohooo! my office is included!). This is a major step considering that R.A. 7600 previously covered only private and government HEALTH INSTITUTIONS. However, one bothersome thing here is that the law provides for exemptions for establishment/institutions "where the establishment of lactation stations is not feasible or necessary due to the peculiar circumstances of the workplace or public place taking into consideration, among others, number of women employees, physical size of the establishment, and the average number of women who visit." Unless the implementing rules and regulations narrowly tailor this exemption, this may be a tool for employers to go around the law’s requirements.
I am happy to note that the law also encourages health institutions to set up milk banks for storage of donated breast milk which have been pasteurized. This will mean an increase in the pasteurization machines currently available in the country thus, making donated breast milk more acceptable to health professionals.
To be continued… in the meantime check out the newspaper reports on the new law here: