|Little Gym of Kuwait Bebelac Promotion Violates the WHO Code|
Several mamas reprimanded the Little Gym for promoting a formula company- citing that they have a conflict of interest and should not be promoting formula for ethical reasons. One mama commented on Bebelac's own advert description: "No infant formula is "very close" to breastmilk and it is unethical to advertise that it is. Moreover, the International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes prohibits statements that suggest that formula protects or "helps protect" baby's immune system, as such statements are simply unfounded. Nothing against moms opting for formula - my own daughter had it when I went back to work. I do, however, take issue with the handing out formula bags to parents at a children's gym and telling them that the powder in the bag is similar to breastmilk (it is not)."
In response, Little Gym stated: "We believe that it is a mothers choice and I'm sorry you feel so strong about denying freedom of choice, again, we respect your opinion, we by no means intend to "sabotage a mothers intentions to breast feed", what a mother chooses to do is a personal decision, as far as your studies, we respect that as well, again ,it's a mothers choice what she does in regards to feeding just as it is a parents choice to politely decline taking the gift bag, we again are not advocating formula over breast milk,we 100% agree that for mothers whom are able, there is no substitute for breast feeding, but there are those who need formula... the free gift bag contains other nice things, hopefully these were not a concern to you, if you or any mother would like to return your free bag, I will be happy to send it back to the company who graciously donated them."
So- is this a big deal? Or are all these mamas getting their panties in a bunch for nothing?
The fact is, this is a big deal. All advertising or promotion of infant formula to the general public, or directly and indirectly to mothers, is forbidden by the International Code for the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (Article 5.1 and Article 5.2) Bebelac is violating the code, and by distributing the bags to mothers, the Little Gym of Kuwait is as well.
|WHO Code Protects Moms|
Breastfeeding in Kuwait is already in mortal peril. In Kuwait, only 11% of babies are exclusively breastfed (according to a 2010 study conducted by Kuwait University). The health benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and baby (i.e. prevention of diabetes, heart disease, obesity) should make the Little Gym of Kuwait the biggest promoter of breastfeeding, rather than fighting against it by inadvertently providing free advertising for formula companies. Both the mothers who carry the bags around and the gym handing the bags out are being used as free advertising for Bebelac.
It is true that a mother's choice to breastfeed or formula feed is a private matter. That is why the WHO Code was created to protect mothers from such dishonest advertising, so that they can learn about breastfeeding from unbiased sources. Conscientious health promotion organizations have an obligation to uphold the WHO Code by refusing to give formula companies a "free ride". Many other ethically minded individuals and organizations have refused to accept money and "free" gifts from formula companies like Bebelac, Nestle, and others- and I would encourage the Little Gym of Kuwait to do the same.