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Friday, November 16, 2012

DepEd bans milk giveaways in schools!

Finally, 5 years the issuance of the Revised Rules and Regulations Implementing the Milk Code and 3 years after the passage of the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion, DepEd has put in action the requirements under this law.  On 23 October 2012 (my birthday - yay!), the Department of Education issued Department Order No. 80, series of 2012, entitled "Strengthening the Integration of Breastfeeding Education in the Curriculum, Setting Up and Sustaining the Operation of Lactation Stations in Schools and Compliance with Executive Order No. 51.
Read the Order below:

As provided under Republic Act No. 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, schools are directed to set up lactation stations which must be equipped with handwashing facilities, a refrigerator, electrical outlets, tables and chairs.  This will address the need of faculty members and school officials who need to express milk and there are a lot of teachers, etc. who are unable to do so because of lack of facilities.  This benefits not only teachers but students as well.

DepEd could have gone a step further by mandating that schools have to set-up a lactation policy as well.  I hope that schools who set up the lactation stations would not just make it a "decoration" but will actually let their employees use this facility, by providing for lactation periods.  This is a challenge especially for teachers of very young kids.

The Order also directed the integration of breastfeeding education in the curriculum.  By doing so, I hope DepEd will be able to help establish breastfeeding as a norm.  Perhaps a first step would adding breastfeeding photos or cartoons in preschool books to represent families or babies.  In N's books, babies are often represented by bottles and I have never seen any reference to breastfeeding.

sampling at an exclusive girls' school
The most important directive would be for schools to uphold Executive Order No. 51 and a prohibition on the following:

  1. posting and/or distribution of advertisements, promotion or marketing of infant formula and related products;
  2. distribution of milk samples and supplies by companies manufacturing infant formula products; and
  3. donations from manufacturers and distributors of such products, among others in the school setting.

Clearly, under the Order, any sampling of milk products is PROHIBITED - even if what is being distributed is preschool milk.   I had previously posted about the Aqiva milk sampling being done in my daughter and nephew's school.  Under this DepEd Order, such sampling is clearly prohibited as Aqiva (a milk product) is being distributed by Wyeth - a company manufacturing infant formula (prohibition no. 2).

Further, pursuant to prohibition no. 3 - school caravans and the like are also prohibited.  Wyeth has been very aggressive and in fact has even tied up with Gymboree and Nick Jr. in organizing "Little Leaders Caravans" in schools.  I previously posted about the actions I took in my daughter's school.  Happily, I was going in the right direction as such activities are now explicitly prohibited under the DepEd's Order.

Finally, schools are directed to engage parents and other active members of the community in the breastfeeding campaign.  As I previously shared, breastfeeding awareness should be directed not just to the mom but also to everyone else surrounding her.  By participating in breastfeeding education, schools are able to influence the community and allow breastfeeding to be integrated in society.  This is a definite step forward in effective breastfeeding support.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to write your child's school principal and send them a copy of this DepEd Order.  Do you work in or are you still in school?  What has your school done to support your breastfeeding efforts?

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