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SA adopts Protection of Child Nutrition Ordinance.

KARACHI -- Sindh Assembly (SA) on Thursday unanimously adopted Protection of Breast-feeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2013, paving way to discourage formula milk in the province.

The bill, introduced in the SA on Feb 8 by MPA Pritanber Sewani and MPA Sardar Ahmed, was referred to the standing committee on health that on Thursday presented its report, to the Speaker in favour of the bill.

Speaker Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza, Health Minister, Dr Saghir Ahmed and Law Minister Ayaz Soomro particularly supported the piece of law, expected to go a long way in guaranteeing health for new born and infants.

Presently, the country has the highest bottle feeding and lowest exclusive breast-feeding rates within all South Asian countries, consequently has one of the highest infant mortality and morbidity rates in the world, around 70 per 1000.

According to UNICEF, improved breast-feeding practices and reduction of artificial feeding could save an estimated 1.3 million infants a year.

Initiating breastfeeding within one hour after birth can reduce neonatal mortality by 22% and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, can reduce infant mortality by 15% (Lancet).

Under the bill any manufacturer or distributor found working for companies who deal with designated products are penalised.

After due procedure, if confirmed to have broken or deviated from regulations, a fine of not be less than Rs 50,000 or more than Rs 500,000 for both shall be imposed or imprisonment for two years.

Cases or complaints lodged against medical practitioners will be referred to Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) for further action.

Pakistan had signed the "Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes", tabled at World Health Assembly in 1981 to protect and promote breastfeeding.

Legislation at the Federal level was done in 2002 with the adoption of "Protection of Breastfeeding and Infant Nutrition-Ordinance 2002, however, owing to influence of the strong lobby of infant formula manufacturers and promoters, it could not be implemented.

Since the devolution last year the Ordinance was to be passed by the Provincial Assemblies. A bill on Breastfeeding & Child Nutrition has already been passed by Punjab Assembly in 2012.

Child specialists and medical professionals of Sindh through the platform of Health, Education and Literacy Programme (HELP) had been the harbinger in getting the much wanted law in Sindh and Balochistan.

They had been striving hard in collaboration with South Asian Infant Feeding Research Network (SAIFRN) and Nutrition Cell Balochistan.

Prof. Dur-e- Sameen Akram talking to reporter said she expects that the law will also be adopted in Balochistan and that the goal, "Saving Lives of Newborn by Early Initiation of Breastfeeding and Exclusive Breastfeeding", will be implemented in its truest sense.

"HELP had been striving for adoption of the bill as the practice is equally crucial for mothers and newborns," she said.

In reply to a question the senior child specialist said she was fully conscious that concerned doctors alongwith media will also need to modify the mindset about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding.
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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Date:Feb 15, 2013
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