The health, nutrition and well-being of women and infants worldwide is a global concern and public health imperative.
Breastfeeding in line with global recommendations is vital to making progress as it provides health benefits to both women and children.
With this in mind, nearly 40 years ago, the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes to prevent the inappropriate and misleading marketing of baby formula, toddler (or growing-up) milks and other breastmilk substitutes, so that women could make decisions regarding breastfeeding based on sound information without undue and misleading influence. Numerous subsequent resolutions have clarified and added to the original provisions, collectively now referred to as “the Code.”
Today, additional strides must be made ensure that the Code is complied with in policy and practice in service of the health of women and children around the world.
Call to Action
In order to help ensure that all infants and young children worldwide are optimally breastfed and eat a healthy diet, eight civil society organizations and United Nations (UN) agencies call on all manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) to take all the following steps to achieve Code compliance:
1. Publicly commit your company to full compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions (the Code) globally (including coverage of breastmilk substitutes up to 36 months of age), and disclose a concrete plan for achieving this goal by 2030 at the latest, with delineation of clear incremental steps.
2. As a first step toward full Code compliance, by the end of 2020:
For companies that do not currently have a BMS marketing policy, adopt a Code-aligned BMS marketing policy for all countries for products marketed as suitable for infants between birth and 12 months of age, and commit to upholding your policy including in all jurisdictions where regulations are absent or less stringent than your policy. In countries where national law is more stringent than your policy, adherence to national law always takes precedence.
For companies that have a BMS marketing policy in place, ensure that your current policy and practices (including promotion to consumers and healthcare providers) are Code-aligned and for products marketed as suitable for infants between birth and 12 months of age, extend them to all countries, and commit to upholding your policy in all jurisdictions even where regulations are absent or less stringent than your policy. In countries where national law is more stringent than your policy, adherence to national law always takes precedence.
3. Commit to support the adoption and implementation of national legislation fully aligned with the Code in order to create a level playing field for all companies.
4. Agree to provide information on your company’s policies and practices to the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) as requested, recognizing ATNI as an independent actor responsible for monitoring companies’ progress toward their plans for achieving Code compliance.