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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Watering Down the Milk Code

Last Saturday, I woke up to this disturbing update about the Milk Code:


Marketing strategies of formula milk companies have become so widespread and pervasive that they have been able to ingrain the perceived need for formula milk in the minds of Filipino doctors and parents.   Plus, they have been very crafty in getting influential celebrities to spout their nonsense.


In late May, I had an email discussion with a fellow breastfeeding mom.  Her daughter is almost 2 years old and she continues to breastfeed her child.  Her child also eats a lot and is being given fresh milk.  However, her mom (or the grandmother) prefers powdered milk or formula.  She was also surprised to meet a fellow mom at her pediatrician's office who gives her 2-year old Nido 1-3, every 2-3 hours except if the child eats.

The amount of milk that this 2-year old drinks plus the concerns of her own mother made her doubt her ability to provide milk for her child.  I shared with her various websites showing that kids from 1-3 years of age actually just need 1 and a half glasses of milk.  AND the milk NEED NOT be formula milk.  Here's my post on why formula milk is not needed for toddlers.

If you notice, milk companies target their marketing efforts to parents of older kids e.g. 1-3, etc. That's because the rules and regulations implementing the Milk Code explicitly limits the marketing of infant formula and defines infants to be babies from 0-12months old.  Now, Atty. Ipat shares that there are moves to change the marketing limitation to cover only babies 0-6months old.  Why is this so bad?!

In a study published last year, the World Health Organization found that Filipino mothers are greatly influenced by advertisements or their doctors such that those who have been exposed to these influences are 2-4 times more likely to feed their babies with infant formula products.  Further, these mothers are 6.4 times more likely to stop breastfeeding their babies within 1 year of age. Meanwhile, another World Health Organization study on the economic burden of infant formula on families with young children in the Philippines had the following findings:
"The economic burden from infant formula purchase and out-of-pocket medical expenditure exceeded $400 million in 2003. This cost was aside from other costs, such as absenteeism and the risk of childhood death and illness. These expenses  caused an unnecessary burden on Filipino families and could instead have been invested in education and other social services."
There is a pending proposed bill to amend the Milk Code.  However, while the principal author was on leave, formula companies stepped in and influenced other legislators (namely, Representatives Rufus Rodriguez and Roilo Anthony Golez) who revised the proposed bill - which now limits marketing restrictions to babies 0-6 months old [down from the original limitation in the Bondoc bill of up to 3 years old!].  Clearly, there are repercussions to the proposed limitation of marketing restrictions only to babies from 0-6 months old.

Arugaan, Breastfeeding Philippines and other organizations are setting up rallies to call attention to these sneaky changes.   There is an online petition to stop the Milk Code 2.  Click HERE to sign.

There is also a proposal to send letters to your own district legislators and ask them not to vote for the bill as revised by Rep. Rodriquez and Rep. Golez.   Here's a proposed draft.  Feel free to copy, revise and send to your own Congressmen.  Click HERE to see the list of Representatives and look for your district:

====================
Dear Representative xxx,

As your constituent, I urge you to vote against the passage of consolidated House Bill entitled "An Act Promoting a comprehensive program on Breastfeeding practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing and Promotions of certain foods for Infants and Children or Breastfeeding and Milk Regulation Act.  This is a consolidation of House Bill Nos. 3525, 3527, 3396 and 3537 and has been modified and corrupted to water down the Milk Code - which goes against the essence of the original bill which was to strengthen the Milk Code.

The original House Bill No. 3396 seeks to limit marketing of formula milk to children up to three years of age.  The consolidated bill reduces this period and limits the marketing of formula milk to children up to 6 months only.  The Department of Health advocates breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

In a study published in 2011, the World Health Organization found that Filipino mothers are greatly influenced by advertisements or their doctors such that those who have been exposed to these influences are 2-4 times more likely to feed their babies with infant formula products.  Further, these mothers are 6.4 times more likely to stop breastfeeding their babies within 1 year of age.

Another World Health Organization study on the economic burden of infant formula on families with young children in the Philippines established that the cost of infant formula (purchase and out of pocket medical expenditure) exceed $400 million in 2003.  This excludes costs from absenteeism and the risk of childhood death and illness, which caused an unnecessary burden on Filipino families.

Clearly, the consolidated House Bill will only exacerbate the problems faced by Filipino families.  Again, I urge you to vote against the consolidated House Bill entitled "Breastfeeding and Milk Regulation Act.

Thank you for your attention and looking forward to your favorable action on this matter.

Sincerely,

xxxxxx
Your Constituent

As a mom, what can you do? You can write a letter to your legislator.  Under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, public officials and employees are obliged to act promptly on letters and requests by replying within 15 days from receipt thereof and include the action taken the request in the reply.  Usually, public officials reply saying that request has been referred to xxx office. But I'd like to positively think that if enough moms write and make the request, they will sit up and take notice.  Plus, it is election year next year ;) So get that pen and paper and write away!

8 comments:

Tang3rine030607 said...

We can send them emails through here: 
http://www.congress.gov.ph/members/index.php?v=province&congress=15 

next9 (Jen CC Tan) said...

this is terrible! I sent my letter to my congressman already!

Jenny said...

thanks for sharing! updated the post to include this link. 

Annie Gower said...

Even if it is your last laugh, enjoy it....Everyone makes  mistakes.  Contact his assistant or him, I will put the early comments on.  Everyone else needs to get their lazy ass out of their bed and into the freezing fridge.  

Als said...

If I may add, some of them also infiltrated most mommy forums posing as moms. If a mother posts that her kid has appetite problems, another mom will suggest to try Lactum or Nido. Then they'll go on to testify how these products increased the appetites of their children. They make it sound like its a miracle pill!

Jenny said...

thank you for sharing Als! Yes, I do not put that beneath the milk companies to do.  and I am sure they have the budget to pay people to troll the mommy forums

LEI ALFONSO said...

this makes me sick!

LEI ALFONSO said...

jenny, just saw this post of yours, will link it up with my post (am super huli sa balita). thank you

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