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Thursday, March 6, 2014

LATCH at NNC-NCR's Breastfeeding Forum

In mid-February, I was fortunate to be invited to the National Nutrition Council - NCR's Breastfeeding Forum and Photo Exhibit held at the Kaban ng Hiyas in Mandaluyong City.  I met the NCR's Nutrition Officer Meren Francia through breastfriend Kate Demetrio - also a Nutrition Officer of the NNC.  Meren and I worked closely on the Nanay Bayanihan project so when she asked me to share about the Milk Code, I readily agreed.

The Breastfeeding Photo Exhibit was the showcase of the various projects of 16 cities and 1 municipality covered by NNC-NCR to protect and promote breastfeeding.  Did you know that each of these cities (and municipality have breastfeeding support groups?  The members of the community-based BFSGs now number more than 3,000, resulting in the gradual increase in breastfeeding initiation and exclusive breastfeeding rates in the NCR.

showcase of LGU's breastfeeding activities

The various BFSGs have different projects and the purpose of the exhibit was for one city to learn from the other.  For instance, Taguig City regularly organizes breastmilk letting activities.  Meanwhile, Makati City boasts the first LGU-run human milk bank, which was pioneered by Mayor Junjun Binay.  His youngest daughter, Maria Kennely, survived on donor human milk when his wife died at childbirth.  

Mandaluyong City focused on creating support by establishing "Erpats for Breastfeeding," a program which highlighted the role of fathers in the breastfeeding relationship. To commend their work, all the 17 LGUs were given a certificate of appreciation for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as an effective intervention against hunger and malnutrition.   

speakers during the event with emcee Meren
The guest speaker for the event was Congresswoman Leah S. Paquiz who shared that her 4 children were all breastfed and that she fully supports the protection and promotion of breastfeeding in the country.  On my part, I was tasked to prepare a presentation on the Milk Code.  The Milk Code is not an easy law to understand and there are certainly a lot of loopholes that unethical companies take advantage of.  

I represented LATCH and highlighted what provisions of the Milk Code are usually being violated and where these violations can be reported.  I also shared the importance of being vigilant.  By becoming mere bystanders and not reporting violations, we contribute to the decline of breastfeeding rates in the Philippines.

Work to further the breastfeeding cause is never-ending.  In fact, milk and bottle companies continue to creatively violate the Code and push their products.  There are still a lot of individuals who see the Milk Code as a nuisance and I was happy to be given the opportunity to sway the BFSGs to think otherwise.  

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