Member States have until the end of February to comment on these proposals

Maternal, infant and young child nutrition  WHO Secretariat Report, Draft Resolution and Guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children  Document EB138/8   

IBFAN point by point suggestions for changes: CLICK HERE   

IBFAN statement during the WHO ExecutiveBoard Meeting  29th January 2016

 A.  Draft resolution

The Draft resolution and the Guidance contain some provisions that we warmly welcome as they are likely to contribute to the much needed increase in rates of optimal infant and young child feeding (Lancet 2016). One such provision is the needed clarity that formulas for older babies (up to 36 months) are covered by the International Code and WHA Resolution. However, there are some serious concerns that Member states must address before adoption of this important Resolution and its Annex at the 69th WHA in May. We highlight these below and urge Member states to present these to the WHO Secretariat so that the new draft reflects them adequately.

Codex: Draft Resolution Op2 d and Recommendation 3 of the Guidance  The recommendation to implement Codex Guidelines and Standards into national law poses a serious risk to health. Codex standards and guidelines be must be brought fully in line with WHO guidelines, resolutions and recommendations before they are implemented into national legislation. As currently drafted the MIYCN Resolution and Guidance would undermine hard won, health protective norms already adopted by the WHA. Although IBFAN has achieved some strengthening of Codex standards and guidelines relating to products for babies,  the lax/non existent conflict of interest rules of Codex have led to compromises.  The Resolution specifically  mentions the Codex  Guidelines on  formulated complementary foods CAC/GL 8-1991, which along with many other Codex texts does not fully reflect WHA Resolutions and Recommendations and are less health protective than many national laws. Codex is currently discussing the revision of the Follow-on Formula Standard and guidelines on Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods. The food industry is fighting hard to oppose the inclusion of important marketing safeguards. Strong guidance from the WHA is needed to inform this work and help Member States harmonize Codex texts with WHA recommendations.

B Annex: Guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children  Paragraph 3 creates a loophole that could lead to further increase of inappropriate marketing of fortified foods and supplements, rather than to the adequate oversight of their use.

Recommendation 4 opens the door to marketing by listing PROMOTIONAL strategies that MAY BE CONVEYED. This defeats the intent of WHA Resolution 65.6  that simply called on the DG: to provide clarification and guidance on the INAPPROPRIATE promotion of foods for infants and young children. There is therefore no justification for the inclusion of a shopping list of marketing strategies.  If adopted such a list would undermine legislation that is in effect in many countries such as India, Kenya, Bangladesh, South Africa etc. Any reference in the Guidance that could imply that certain ‘promotions’ are endorsed by the WHA, should be replaced with terms such as  “labeled” “put on sale”  ‘traded ‘ etc.

 Emergencies Annex: Guidance Recommendation 6 undermines previous WHA decisions. Without any explanation it provides direct access of companies to emergency relief operations and to health workers and health facilities. The two exceptions in this recommendation go directly against the WHA decisions:

  1. the exception on emergencies goes against the WHA 47.5 and WHA 63.23, which provide a clear guidance to member states on  planning, implementing and supporting emergency relief operations in infant nutrition.
  2. the exception regarding  ‘officially sanctioned health programmes’  introduces two problems: First the WHA 47.5 aims as ensuring no free and low cost supplies of products covered by the International Code to any part of the health care system. As the term ‘officially sanctioned health programmes’  is not defined, this exception can lead to violations of the WHA 47.5. It also introduces a loophole  which could lead to indiscriminate and harmful use of products under the scope of this Guidance.   Finally, this Recommendation is directed to companies who should never be direct providers of their products be it in emergencies or any other programmes. The need for any foods for infants and young children should be assessed by qualified emergency relief staff and products resourced through normal procurement channels.

For more information and fuller comments contact:

Patti Rundall, prundall@babymilkaction.org

 

 

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