BEIRUT: Under the slogan of “protecting breastfeeding,” the Lactica association organized a peaceful rally in front of the Lebanese Order of Pharmacists on Tuesday, demanding the syndicate cracks down on alleged violations of a law restricting marketing of pediatric products related to newborn feeding.
Law 47/2008 forbids any form of marketing and advertising campaigns for baby bottles, teats, pacifiers, baby food, and artificial formula milk from birth till three years of age.
This law aims at providing safe and healthy food to infants and young children by protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding along with ensuring safe use of infants and children food and complementary food products, according to the World Health Organization.
“We are proud that Lebanon is among few countries to have approved a complete law based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” said Aline Abi Nader a board member at Lactica.
Lactica is a Lebanese association whose aim is to support and protect breastfeeding in Lebanon, the NGO was established by parents mainly in reaction to the huge needs in the breastfeeding field, and in response to a series of violations of the law code in Lebanon.
The intent of the protest is to halt pharmacies that are teaming up with bottle companies for offering moms free baby bottles, that a member of the NGO said, “it’s a form of marketing that can sabotage the breastfeeding journey,” according to Lactica.
“We haven’t mentioned the company that currently violated the law because we don’t want to give them additional publicity through us,” adding that, the current company was contacted by Lactica and when informed of the law their response was essentially that they don’t care, said Sara Luis a volunteered founder at Lactica.
The NGO has been working for the last three years to ensure the Law is implemented and that all relevant parties accept their role in its defense and implementation.
“The purpose is not to prohibit or stop the use of bottles and artificial milk, but rather to stop the predatory marketing from the manufacturing companies, which have been shown to significantly reduce breastfeeding rates,” said Sara Luis.
Studies have shown that the introduction of any of these products can and does often negatively affect a breastfeeding relationship without parents even being aware of the cause of their failed attempts to breastfeed their babies.
Introducing baby bottles at an early age for children is dangerous as it can lead to decreasing mother’s milk supply, serious health problems to the mother, like plugged ducts and mastitis, according to Lactica.
“Parents and babies shouldn't be allowed to fall prey to their unethical marketing practices to increase sales by putting at risk the health of both babies and mothers,” said Joana Nawfal a member of the board at Lactica.
During the sit-in, the protesters stressed the benefits of breastfeeding for babies that endorses sensory and cognitive development, and protects the infant against infectious and chronic diseases. Likewise, breastfeeding contributes to the health and well-being of mothers by helping to reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
“No mother should ever live the horrible feeling of failing to breastfeed because of business corporations’ greed,” one protester said.
Attempts to reach the Lebanese Order of Pharmacists were unsuccessful.
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