Digital Marketing –  why a strong Resolution is needed to protect mothers and babies

WHO 154th Executive Board Meeting, Geneva, 22 January – 27 January 2024.

154th EB members Members of the WHO Executive Board

Chair and Officers of the Executive Board

Documentation for the EB


 2024 is a reporting year for  Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition so Digital Marketing will be discussed under the “Healthier Populations” agenda item.

With so many serious emergencies caused by conflicts and climate events on our minds, it’s easy to forget the importance of protecting and supporting women who want to breastfeed – a lifeline for so many babies that provides food, nurturing care and immune support.

Digital marketing is fast becoming the predominant source of exposure to promotion of baby feeding products globally. In 2022, WHO’s report on digital marketing of breast-milk substitutes  described its cross border extent and power. It is now totally out of control and parents and carers everywhere are being flooded with misleading information that undermines WHO and national health recommendations and disempowers parents.

A WHA Resolution supporting the  WHO Guidance on digital marketing of breast-milk substitutes  would  send a  clear message to all WHO Member States that there is a political expectation to implement it.  Implementation of this Guidance will have zero cost to governments, yet the lowering of healthcare costs and stronger, more able workforces will benefit national and family economies.

Infant feeding in Emergencies. Food insecurity and malnutrition is now a reality for far too many people. We will be reminding policy makers of the need to support and protect women who want to  breastfeed – a resilient practice that provides food, nurturing care, immune support and is a lifeline in emergencies. Pre-preparedness plans must follow the  IFE Operational Guidance, and include appropriate training, alongside Conflicts Interest safeguards – not just for disasters, but also for  ‘normal ‘ times.

Messaging:  We will call for safeguards to prevent appeals  that promote  ultra-processed fortified products as magic bullets with no mention of breastfeeding and the importance of bio-diverse foods.

Global Trade:  We will ask UN and humanitarian agencies to use their considerable diplomatic influence at Codex and all global fora towards a One Health approach and to challenge the corporate-led food system that has done so much harm to the ecosystem and bio-diverse sustainable foods.


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