As a way of protecting mothers from aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) on Wednesday unveiled a document to support compliance to breastfeeding code implementation and Breast Milk Substitues (BMS) regulations in the country.
The unveiling ceremony which was done in Abuja at the 40th Anniversary of the International Code of marketing of BMS in Nigeria is with the theme “Implementing the BMS Code in Nigeria: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities”.
Speaking at the event, the Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said the BMS Code was an international health policy framework for breastfeeding protection and promotion adopted by the 3rd and 4th of the World Health Assembly (WHA) in 1981.
She said the code is to ensure safe feeding and better nutrition for infants and young children as the provision of the code recommended restrictions on marketing of BMS.
The NAFDAC DG who was represented by her Special Assistant, Gbenga Fajemirokun said the Code was developed as a public health strategy aimed at contributing to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants by promoting breastfeeding and to ensure proper use of breast-milk substitutes only when they were necessary.
Prof. Adeyeye added that “Nigeria, a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) voted for code adoption in 1981 and is expected to implement all its provisions in the entirety as a minimum requirement and to translate it into national legislation, regulations and other suitable measures.
She said Nigeria as a country takes her international and national obligations very serious reason for the provisions of CAP M5 Marketing BMS Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as amended by Decree 22 of 1999.
This Act she said designated NAFDAC as the regulatory agency to implement, monitor and enforce the code in Nigeria noting that they will work collaboratively with all stakeholders and partners.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, on his part said discussions were on at the National Assembly to permit mothers to embark on six months maternity leave after delivery as he says this would also support exclusive breastfeeding.
Oloriegbe noted that Nigeria had not achieved its target as far as exclusive breastfeeding was concerned, adding that the environment had not been friendly to achieve that.
According to him, we must promote friendly environment for this initiative adding that a lot must be done to encourage this to meet our target.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the ministry remained committed to improve survival of children, especially the ones under the age of five-year and maternal child care through various policies that would promote healthy living.
Represented by the Director of Family Health in the ministry Dr Salma Anas, the Minister said the ministry would continue to promote exclusive breastfeeding and other initiatives in the same direction.
He encouraged mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that support mechanisms were on the way to encourage mothers.