…as NAFDAC threatens to prosecute, jail violators of breastmilk substitutes code
Segun Babatunde, Bauchi
A Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), Alive and Thrive Family Health International (fhi360) funded by the Bill and Melinda Foundation(BMGF) has declared that exclusive breastfeeding practices for newborns for a period of six months has the potential to prevent 103,742 child death and 10 million cases of childhood Diarrhea and Pneumonia.
This is as the National Agency for Food,Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC)has warmed that it will prosecute and ensure that violators of International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) in the country were jailed for two years.
The Bauchi State Coordinator/ Focal Person of the Alive & Thrive fhi360, Mr Asimobi Chidiebere stated this during a one day orientation for Journalists, Bloggers and other social media influencers in the State on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN), organized by the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with Alive and Thrive, held at the Hazibal hotel in Bauchi yesterday enjoined journalists to continue to promote policies that encourage exclusive Breastfeeding.
Asimobi enjoined the media to continue to champion the campaign of exclusive breastfeeding for newborns for a period of six months, saying that the practice has the potential to prevent 103,742 child death and 10 million cases of childhood Diarrhea and Pneumonia.
While stressing that exclusive breastfeeding is the most important thing in the building up of the early life of me infant as it aids its development and growth, he said babies and children
require good nutrition for thier survival, heath and development.
According to him, for the first six months of life, breastmilk is the only food babes need as it provides all the necessary nutrients and long-term health benefits.
He said that the media has the potential to shape the perceptions of the public, pointing out that right information from the media can lead to behavioral change among people including exclusive breastfeeding.
He explained that “Consistent education on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months for newborns by the media has the power to correct myths, beliefs and social norms that discourages exclusive breastfeeding.
“When mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding, the country saves the sum of $22 million equivalent to N6.93 billion for the treatment of Childhood killer diseases.Also, $21 billion which equivalent to N6.6 trillion is generated for the country.The practice of exclusive breastfeeding further eliminates breast milk substitutes which cost households who buys them the sum of $38 million equivalent to N11 billion” he said
Also Speaking, the Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed said the first 1,000 days of baby’s life starts from conception to the second birthday, pointing out that proper care should be given to mother and child’s nutrition for the baby to grow properly, translating to their productivity.
Dr Mohammed who was represented by the Agency’s Director of Disease Control and Immunization, Dahiru Mahmood commended the collaboration between Alive and Thrive and the Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency to train the media on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN).
He said that there was a need to look away from Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) required to treat malnutrition cases, pointing out that RUTF was no longer a sustainable approach because of the cost attached to it and the demand from the number of patients which is growing at an alarming rate.
Speaking in an overview of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) / Role of media in promoting Code compliance,the Bauchi State Coordinator of NAFDAC, Mrs Josephine Dayilim warmed that the Agency will prosecute and ensure that violators of International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) in the country were jailed for two years.
She said that such companies or individuals will also be made to forfeit the offending items on conviction no matter the quantity and cost.
Josephine Daliyim therefore urged Journalists to always report the continued violation of BMS by vendors and manufacturers across the country particularly in Bauchi where the programme was held.
She also said that the Agency needs the support of Journalists in Bauchi State to be able to effectively monitor and report violators of national regulations by manufacturers of BMS products Code.
She added that the implementation of the Code was designed to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and prevent health caregivers from aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes by infant food manufacturers.
The Coordinator further noted that lack of awareness of stakeholders, including the media, had also contributed to the gravity of violations currently being practiced.