Online public consultation: draft guidance on regulatory measures aimed at restricting digital marketing of breast-milk substitutes
Deadline of submission: 17 September 2023
The WHO draft guidance is HERE.
IBFAN warmly welcomes this draft Guidance that contains many important safeguards and acknowledges the need to address a constantly evolving market with strong sections on cross-border marketing and exports. The following are suggestions of how the Guidance could be further strengthened to help governments future-proof national safeguards and prevent the Guidance endorsing harmful practices by default
- should stress the need for safeguards regarding Products for Emergencies, including a prohibition of inappropriate promotion of products marketed for emergency situations or malnutrition, in line with WHA 55.25 (Para 23 Rec 3.2) and Operational Guidance for Infant and Young Child Feeding in emergencies.
- Mention Bottles, Teats and Foods for Infants and Young Children more clearly to offset their omission in the Title and Purpose (Para 1);
- Refer to ‘Designated Products’ to encourage and empower legislators to include products that are not mentioned in the scope of the Code but when inappropriately marketed can undermine optimal maternal and child health; for example, pacifiers, breastpumps and ultra-processed products and formulas for pregnant and lactating mothers and children beyond 36 months (Para 6, 25 and Rec 4)
- Expand the list of definitions (Para 10 Terminology)
- Strengthen Recommendation 1.2 to prohibit labelling, packshots and packaging of designated products and Include safeguards to protect privacy and prevent inappropriate marketing via QR codes or other digital labelling schemes. (Para 14)
- prohibit financial or other incentives to professionals, health workers or their associations (Para 16 Rec 1.4)
- Include a specific prohibition of the commercialization of products made through freeze-drying, cloning or industrial processing of breastmilk
- Require monitoring, enforcement and proportionality of fines to be protected from commercial influence (Para 26 Rec 5, Para 30, Rec 8)
- We strongly support Recommendations 9, 188.8.131.52.9.3 that address cross border marketing.
- Member States should be required to report back every two years on progress in the implementation of this guidance to the WHO DG and the World Health Assembly . (Rec 11)
Background and context
Objective of the consultation
The purpose of this online, open, public consultation is to gather feedback from diverse stakeholders on the draft Guidance to Member States on regulatory measures aimed at restricting the digital marketing of breast-milk substitutes.
General guidance on providing comments
Submissions cannot be made anonymously. You will be required to provide valid responses to questions that ask your full name, your organizational affiliation (if any), your role (job title), your country of residence, your personal email address OR your organizational email address (if submitting on behalf of an organization) in order to make a submission. Submissions that are not accompanied by valid responses to these questions may not be accepted for consideration.
All comments will be carefully reviewed and a summary will be presented to WHO’s Technical Advisory Group who for consideration. A full list of comments received will be published on the WHO website. (Personal email addresses will NOT be published.) WHO will prepare a summary report that describes themes raised in consultation submissions and decisions taken in response to these themes. Specific responses to individual comments will not be provided.
Comments on the Draft Guidance must be submitted by 11:59 on Sunday, 17th September 2023, Central European Time (GMT/UHC +1). The consultation will close at 00h00m on Monday 18th September 2023, Central European Time (GMT/UHC+1).
Please direct questions regarding this consultation by email to NFS@who.int, using the subject line: Digital Marketing BMS.
Put responses into the online form.