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27.04.2005 General News

Exclusive breastfeeding affecting sale of baby food

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Ho, April 27, GNA- Promotion of exclusive breastfeeding of babies for the first six months in the Ho Municipality is affecting sales of infant formulas in the municipality.

Despite the general decline in sales, shops still continue to stock and hang out promotional signs about such infant formulas. This picture emerged during a Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation Monitoring exercise in health facilities, shops and among lactating mothers in Ho on Tuesday.

Officials of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the media carried out the exercise. The exercise, sponsored by United Nations Children's Fund, (UNICEF) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) was to monitor compliance with the Breastfeeding Promotion Regulations 2000, L. I. 1667.

Notwithstanding the exclusive breastfeeding policies and campaigns by the hospitals, evidence showed that a baby food company managed to evade the management of health institutions to promote its products among health professionals contrary to section five (5) of the regulations.

Mrs Goski Alabi, National Co-ordinator of Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation Committee, said responses from mothers to questions on the subject showed that irrespective of their educational status they have understood the importance of exclusive breasting for the first six months.

She said the supposed decline in infantile diarrhoea cases among babies at the hospitals was indicative of the practice of exclusive breastfeeding to a large extent.

''There is still market for infant formulas and this may be encouraging mixed feeding during the first six months of babies.'' The European Union Office in Ghana has alerted the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) of the presence of two brands of contaminated baby formula on the Ghanaian market.

Mrs Alabi said the products, which were said to have originated from France where it killed six babies, were said to have been contaminated by "Salmonella Agona" but have been difficult to trace and withdraw from the market for the past three weeks. " At the moment we cannot tell how many babies in Ghana might have already been fed these contaminated baby products", she said.

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