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Aug 9, 2019

Belize Adopts the International Code as Breast-Milk Substitutes

Breast is best. It’s a slogan we have heard for years and the Ministry of Health wants Belize to take it seriously.  According to PAHO, breastfeeding is vital to a child’s lifelong health and it also reduces costs for health care systems. Infants are at greater risk of death due to diarrhea and other infections when they are not breastfed or partially breastfed.  PAHO reports say that breastfeeding also improves a child’s IQ, school readiness and attendance. While the Latin America and Caribbean rank among the regions with the highest global averages for breastfeeding, more work must be done to reach the goal of exclusively breastfeeding fifty percent of all babies during the first six months.  So, in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry met with health institutions to kick-start the roll out of the International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitute. It is an effort to strengthen measures already in place to protect, promote and support the right to breastfeeding. Here’s more from Nutritionist Robyn Daly.


Robyn Daly

Robyn Daly, Nutritionist, Ministry of Health

“Our breastfeeding policy for the Ministry is from 1996. So, we had to spend some time and start the revision process for that. So, with the support and protection for breastfeeding that falls under the International Code of Marketing Breastfeeding Substitute. So, this will be included in our new breastfeeding policy and that has to be communicated to all persons. So, when we do our policy not only the MCH nurses but the entire staff at the health facility needs to know about policies especially for breastfeeding and the supports that needed.  One of the key things that we want to encourage and promote is the information given and the advertising. Those are two areas that people would normally have violation for. When we say education, what information is given to the mother when she goes to the clinics? We don’t want to have outside marketers or distributors meeting mothers when they are pregnant and giving them a hand-out on using formula. Sometimes we sneak into the facilities and they know when clinic days and so they would come and offer free samples to the mothers. Sometimes the nurses are busy and they get over-looked and they might be outside giving flyers. So, we have to ensure that our facilities are monitored and these information is not given to the mother. So, we don’t want anything to distract the mother from changing her mind to breastfeed. She needs to understand how important it is and also to do the exclusive breastfeeding for six months. Also, the encouragement of work place support. So, that is something that is also going to be included in our police. There must be support where a woman who is working has a little area where if the baby comes she can do feeding on demand or she can express if she needs to express the milk.”

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