May 15, 2007

Cashing on breast-feed substitutes

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Where water is unsafe a bottle-fed child is up to 25 times more likely to die as a result of diarrhoea than a breastfed child." - Baby Milk Action

Joanna Moorhead of the Guardian Unlimited writes an investigative report on Nestlé's aggressive marketing of its baby Milk Formula's in Bangladesh using loopholes in the international code for marketing baby formulas. She has noticed doctors using pens with Nestlé's emblemed logo or writing prescriptions in Nestle's pad.
"The code does not allow them direct access to mothers, she alleges, the companies have become adept at channelling their efforts into getting health workers on side."
Interestingly literatures on the benefits of breast feeding were not found in the clinics and hospital. And more that matters is parents are compelled into buying these expensive formulas as per the doctor's suggestion:
Nur has been fed on Lactogen from the outset, but his formula, she says, costs her and her husband Gias, who works in a mustard-dyeing factory, around 800 taka (£2) a week. And if that doesn't sound much, set it against the fact that Gias earns only £6 a week. "We can't afford it at all," says Happi, shaking her head. "The milk uses up all our money."
The report is worth a read.

Three decades ago (in 1977) the campaigners first called for a boycott of Nestlé because of its aggressive marketing of formula milk in the developing world. Organizations like the International Baby Food action Network are fighting for the cause since long. For more about the worlwide protests against Nestlé please check this out.


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