ISLAMABAD, Aug 3 (APP): Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar on Wednesday said that the government was working on new legislation to discourage formula milk and promoting the culture of breastfeeding in mothers.
Addressing a seminar held here in connection with Global Breastfeeding Week 2016, the minister said that appropriate feeding practices are essential for the nutritional status, growth, development and survival of infants and young children.
She said that the mission of restoring one of the most important rights of young children which guarantees their health and well being throughout life and that is breastfeeding.
She said that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and thereafter should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues up to two years and beyond.
She stresses upon the need to improve exclusive breastfeeding in both low-income and high-income countries to promote child survival and wellbeing.
She said that World Health Assembly has also set targets to improve breastfeeding and the government of Pakistan has also committed to adhere to these global targets set in the 69th World Health Assembly.
In 2002 necessary legislation for protection and promotion of breast feeding was made through “The protection of breast-feeding and child nutrition ordinance” and in 2009 the breast feeding rules were formulated and endorsed by the then Health Ministry.
She said the enforcement of these rules still remains a challenge. She added that the federal and provincial Infant feeding boards are also active now and infant and young child feeding strategy 2016 has also been launched by the ministry.
She said that the role of health care providers are important in prescribing and promoting indiscriminate sale and use of breast milk substitute or formula milk which is a major threat to life and wellbeing of young children in Pakistan.
The minister said that the government functionaries, civil society and parliamentarians have to work hard for implementation of international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes, approved by the World Health Assembly and must take all possible measures to protect and promote breastfeeding in all circumstances.
She urged development partners, civil society, media and health care community to join hands with the government and stand firmly to restore the right of breastfeeding to children.
“As far as Government is concerned we will take all possible measures to enforce breast-milk substitutes code and breastfeeding ordinance with visible action.”
Saira Tarar said “We also acknowledge support of UNICEF and other UN organizations and development partners in supporting our Ministry in developing strategies and guidelines through provision of national and international technical support.”
She said that the role of lady health workers are important to take this challenge and support mothers and children through their skills and motivation.
She asked them to spread the messages of early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breastfeeding and continuation of breast feeding up to two years.