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Code Implementation and protection of Breastfeeding...the experience in australia

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Alessandro Iellamo

Emergency Nutrition Adviser

Technical expert

1 Feb 2021, 10:38

Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings from World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative Australia, Save the Children and the Australian National University.

This email is to invite you to save the date for the next webinar in the “Human rights, gender budgeting and progressing breastfeeding in 2020 and beyond” Series”, which is on Monday 15 February 2021, 7-9.30 pm Sydney time (AEDT). Registration for this event opens shortly via the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy website. 

The 2019 Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy calls for an end to the inappropriate promotion of infant formula and breastmilk substitutes, and for more evidence-based health professional education and training on breastfeeding that is free from commercial influence, but will effective action be taken?

So who gets to have a say, who has access to key networks and policymakers, and who has the biggest marketing budget for influencing decisions on infant and young child feeding decisions, by mothers and policymakers?

Our online webinar program aims to galvanise efforts to improve breastfeeding policies and funding in national budgets, by applying gender budgeting and World Breastfeeding Trends initiative (WBTi) tools to Australian policy. Links to all webinars are on the ANU Gender Institute website.

This webinar will focus on the commercial influence and conflicts of interest on infant and young child nutrition in Australia, and how effective implementation of the WHO International Code can help end the inappropriate promotion and improve gender equality.

There is consensus that breastfeeding is a human right and governments should take urgent action to stop “misleading, aggressive and inappropriate” marketing of breast-milk substitutes in a multi-billion-dollar global industry. Authoritative health guidance emphasises that breastfeeding should be protected, supported and encouraged – both during emergencies and in normal times. However, companies have stepped up their inappropriate promotion of infant formula and breastmilk substitutes for infants and young children during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The forthcoming webinar on Monday, 15 February will focus on protecting women’s and children’s human rights in Australia by addressing commercial influence and conflicts of interest on infant and young child feeding. It will develop themes from our 2020 webinars on ‘Gender Responsive Budgeting and Progressing Breastfeeding Policy’, and ‘Protecting Women’s Reproductive Rights in Policy and Resourcing decisions – the Need for ‘Data and Dollars’ to consider how gender-responsive      budgeting for WHO International Code implementation could end inappropriate BMS promotion in Australia and improve gender equality.

Australia has endorsed the WHO International Code on Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, but implementation has been weak and partial. Marketing of milk formula products is pervasive including online and through the health system. Australia implements the Code mostly through banning nutrition and health claims on infant formula products, providing guidelines for health workers on infant feeding, and allowing major industry participants to agree amongst themselves on how to restrain their marketing to the public and to health workers and facilities. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently considering extending this Agreement for another ten years.

International and national experts in human rights and breastfeeding, gender budgeting, corporate political activity and food marketing, and conflicts of interest in healthcare will provide informed commentary on addressing gender inequality by progressing implementation of the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy.

Please join us, and please share this invite with others in your networks.

Apologies for cross postings. If you want to be taken off this list please let us know. We hope you are keeping safe and well in these challenging times.

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