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16.01.2006 Health

FDB blames unsuccessful breastfeeding to violation of law


Accra, Jan.16, GNA - Mr Kwamina Van-Ess, Deputy Director of the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) in charge of Food, on Monday attributed the unsuccessful breastfeeding campaign to the violation of Ghana's Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation, 2000 (LI 1667) on marketing of breast milk substitutes.

He said a national monitoring exercise recently conducted in the 10 regions after the Code Monitors training in May 2004 revealed that most of the violations within the health care system were spotted in non-designated and private facilities especially maternity homes. Speaking at a five-day training seminar workshop in Accra on dissemination and Code Monitors on the Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation, 2000 (LI 1667), Mr Van-Ess said violations outside the health care were mainly product labelling, inadequate use of promotional devices at the point of sale and provision of informational materials to the general by public health personnel.

The workshop, organised by FDB in conjunction with the Ghana Health Service for stakeholders, was to ensure compliance to its provisions, sensitise various stakeholders to increase awareness, sensitise monitors, mangers of retail outlets, importers and manufacturers of designated baby food products. The training was also to review the national Monitoring Exercise; the major violation observed, strategies for improvement, lessons learnt, the way forward and train more code monitors to enhance the effectiveness of the enforcement of the LI 1667 at the national and community levels.

Mr Van-Ess cautioned the trainees that the training did not authorise them to move into shops; cease products and effect arrest "but we should rather report such people, who do not comply to the law to the FDB".

Mrs Ernestina Agyepong of the UNICEF said though the campaign on breastfeeding was high, some regions still recorded low rates. For example the Volta Region recorded 34 per cent; Greater Accra, 47 with the Central Region recording 33 per cent while the three Northern Regions recorded the highest rates. The national average is 54 per cent. She challenged participants to find innovative ways of accelerating the baby friendly hospital initiative in their respective regions. Ms Veronica Gomez, National Breastfeeding and Baby Friendly Coordinator, giving the national breastfeeding status said the rate had increased from 2 per cent in 1992 to 54 per cent in 2004. She said a baseline study conducted in the past indicated that 97 per cent of children were breastfed during infancy for at least four months. The World Health Organisation recommends that a target of 80 per cent should be achieved by 2008. Ms Gomez noted that the survey also revealed that rural mothers breastfed their babies for a longer period than urban mothers because of their occupation.

She urged breastfeeding mothers to practise the six months exclusive breastfeeding "for it has a lot of nutritional benefits for your babies".