P2.9-M savings seen from breastfeeding
by Minerva BC Newman
Cebu City (22 November) -- "If all lactating mothers breastfed their babies, the government could save an estimated P2.96-million from milk formula imports every year," according to Paranaque representative Eduardo Zialcita who authors House Bill 5714.
HB-5714 calls for a comprehensive program by the DOH, DSWD in coordination with other government agencies and the private sector to promote further breastfeeding in the country; through a massive educational programs on the benefits of breastfeeding; set up lactating facilities in hospitals and in the workplace and assist in handling breastfeeding problems and difficulties that mothers in the workplace often experience.
In a press statement, Zialcita further said that "no mother should be discriminated upon or socially ostracized for breastfeeding her baby and that all infants should, as far as practicable, be fed exclusively on breast milk from birth to six months old for optimal infant growth, development and health."
According to UNICEF the Philippines imports 400 million dollars of unnecessary milk and milk products every year, the same amount that could finance construction of 22 million classrooms, purchase 110 million textbooks, or build 880,000 housing units.
During the launching of the revised IRR of the National Milk Code in August this year, health secretary Francisco Duque stressed that despite threats by some milk firms in the country, the government has vowed to intensify its campaign on breastfeeding babies.
The revised IRR has strengthened and has given more teeth to the enforcement of the Milk Code by banning all formula milk advertisements targeted for babies up to two years and older that tends to undermine breastfeeding. It also bans free milk samples to mothers and gifts or personal samples to health workers.
Duque called on all government agencies to help the DOH monitor the implementation of the Milk Code and further said that "promoting breast milk helps abate hunger and poverty as this is cheaper, healthier, safer and will give children a fighting chance." (PIA-Cebu) [top]