The WHO Nutrition and Food Safety Department (NFS) has strongly condemned strategies employed by some marketing agencies to market baby formula to breastfeeding mothers terming them as inexcusable.
According to Dr Francesco Branca, director of the NFS, such aggressive tactics are aimed at persuading women to abandon breastfeeding, even though it should be exclusive for the first six months after birth.
“The fact that formula milk companies are now employing even more powerful and insidious marketing techniques to drive up their sales is inexcusable and must be stopped.” Said Dr Branca.
According to experts, exclusive breastfeeding could save an estimated 800,000 children under the age of five and 20,000 mothers from breast cancer each year. However, a report by WHO found that the marketing tactics used to promote milk formula are leading to cases of overuse which in turn discourages breastfeeding.
Early last month, a senior health official at the Nairobi Metropolitan Services revealed that Kenya plans to ban plastic feeding bottles starting May 28 to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.