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The Milk Code

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Ministry of Health OFFICE OF THE MINISTER Manila

PRESS STATEMENT OF HEALTH MINISTER ALFREDO R.A. BENGZON 28 OCTOBER 1986

TODAY IS A HISTORIC DAY FOR THOSE OF US COMMITTED TO PROTECTING AND PROMOTING THE HEALTH OF MOTHERS AND CHILDREN.

AFTER A COLLECTIVE FIVE-EAR EFFORT BY AN ASSORTMENT OF GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE HEALTH ORGANIZATION, I AM VERY PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS SIGNED INTO LAW EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 51, ADOPTING A NATIONAL CODE OF MARKETING OF BREASTMILK SUBSTITUTES, BREASTMILK SUPPLEMENTS, AND RELATED PRODUCTS. IT WILL TAKE EFFECT 30 DAYS AFTER PUBLICATION IN THE OFFICIAL GAZETTE.

THE CODE IN EFFECT AIMS TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE PROVISION OF SAFE AND ADEQUATE NUTRITION OF INFANTS BY THE PROTECTION AND PROMOTION OF BREASTFEEDING; AND BY ENSURING THE PROPER USE OF BREASTMILK SUBSTITUTES AND SUPPLEMENTS WHEN THESE ARE NECESSARY. THE CODE ALSO CALLS FOR AN INTENSIFICATION OF THE DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION ON BREASTFEEDING AND PROPER NUTRITION, AND THE REGULATION OF ADVERTISING, MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION OF BREASTMILK SUBSTITUTES AND OTHER RELATED PRODUCTS, INCLUDING BOTTLES AND TEATS

IT IS NO SECRET TO US IN THE HEALTH SECTOR THAT BREASTMILK IS THE BEST FOOD FOR INFANTS FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS, AMONG THEM ITS NATURAL CONTENT OF ALL THE NUTRIENTS AND ANTIBODIES A NEWBORN BABY NEEDS FOR ITS FULL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT; THE PURITY AND CLEANLINESS OF BREASTMILK; AND THE NATURAL BOND THAT DEVELOPS BETWEEN MOTHER AND CHILD DURING BREASTFEEDING.

IT IS ALSO COMMON KNOWLEDGE TO US THAT TWO LEADING CAUSES OF INFANT MORTALITY- DIARRHEAL DISEASES AND MALNUTRITION -ARE OFTEN ROOTED IN IMPROPER AND ARTIFICIAL FEEDING PRACTICES.

DESPITE THIS KNOWLEDGE, HOWEVER, THRE IS EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THE PRACTICE OF BREASTFEEDING HAS BEEN DECLINING IN OUR COUNTRY.

GIVEN THIS SITUATION, WE ARE APPEALING TO THE SECTORS REPRESENTED IN THIS ROOM AND TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO HELP US IN OUR DRIVE TO PROMOTE BREASTFEEDING AND PROPER NUTRITION FOR ALL CHILDREN, AND TO SUPPORT US IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NATIONAL MILK CODE.

I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT THIS CODE IS THE PRODUCT OF THE COOPERATIVE AND TIMELESS EFFORTS OF INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS IN BOTH GOVERNMENT AND THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

THE PHILIPPINE MLK CODE INCORPORATES MANY PROVISIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CODE OF MARKETING OF BREASTFEEDING SUBSTITUTES, WHICH WAS ADOPTED BY THE WORLKD HEALTH ASSEMBLY IN MAY 1981.

SINCE 1981, A NUMBER OF LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS HAVE BEEN ACTIVE IN THE ADVOCACY OF A PHILIPPINE CODE. IN MARCH 1983, WITH MINISTRY OF HEALTH AS THE LEAD AGENCY, THESE GROUPS CAME UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF THE

NATIONAL MOVEMENT FOR THE PROMOTION OF BREASTFEEDING, OR THE NMPB, AND TOGETHER DRAFTED PHILIPPINE CODE AFTER CONSULTATIONS WITH ALL THE POTENTIALLY AFFECTED SECTORS.

A DRAFT OF THE CODE WAS SUBMITTED TO MALACANANG IN MARCH 1983 FOR POSSIBLE ENACTMENT AS AN EXECUTIVE ORDER. IN OCTOBER 1984, THEN OPPOSITION ASSEMBLYMAN FROM CALOOCAN NOW DEPUTY HEALTH MINISTER ANTONIO C. MARTINEZ FIELD THE SAME VERSION OF THE CODE AT THE BATASANG PAMBANSA AS PARLIAMENTARY BILL NO. 2147.

DESPITE THE CONTINUED PRESSURE BY ADVOCACY GROUPS, THE DRAFT OF THE CODE HAS BEEN GATHERING DUST UNTIL THE ASSUMPTION TO POWER OF PRESIDENT AQUINO. THE NEW HEALTH MINISTRY ADMINSTRATION REVIEWED THE CODE, INVOLVED NON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS IN DISCUSSIONS, AND THEN TIGHTENED THE DRAFT TOGETHER WITH THE MALACANANG LEGAL STAFF. THE CODE WAS SIGNED INTO LAW LAST WEEK.

A WORKINGROUP COMPOSED OF HEALTH OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF NON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS HAVE STARTED MEETING TO FORMULATE IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES WHICH WILL BE SUBMITTED TO THE: AFFECTED SECTORS AND INDUSTRIES FOR COMMENT ONCE COMPLETED.

INCLUDED IN THE CODE ARE PROVISIONS BANNING THE USE OF THE HEALTH CARE SYSTE FOR THE PROMOTION OF INFANT FORMULA AND THE OTHER RELATED PRODUCTS; BANNING DONATIONS, SAMPLES, AND OTHER GIVEAWAYS BY MILK COMPANIES TO HEALTH WORKERS AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC; REQUIRING SPECIAL LABELS FOR INFANT FORMULA; REQUIRING JNTF.:NSIFIED TRAINING OF HEALTH WORKERS; AND REGULATING ADVERTISEMENTS OF ALL PRODUCTS COVERED BY THE CODE.

THE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATORS OF THE CODE ARE TWO MONTHS TO ONE YEAR IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE OF NOT LESS THAN 1000 AND NOT MORE THAN 30,000.

I AM NOW READY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.

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