The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said companies that market breastmilk substitutes should not provide free products, samples or reduced-price foods to families through health workers or health facilities, except as supplies distributed through government or officially sanctioned health programmes.
The agency said the directive was in keeping with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS).
It stated that the clarification became necessary due to donations of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) as palliatives in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement, the guideline was also in pursuant to provisions of the NAFDAC Act, Cap N1 LFN 2004 and the Marketing (Breast-Milk Substitutes) Act Cap M.5 LFN 2004 and the BMS regulations.
“The WHO International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) requires that products distributed in such programmes should not display company brands.
“In this specific instance, the unbranded packaging is to focus on the need to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where necessary in terms of infant and young child feeding, rather than use the pandemic as a platform for brand promotion.
“Through this medium the agency wishes to advise all infant food manufacturers/distributors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) wishing to make foods for infants and young children (BMS) available for distribution, through officially sanctioned health programmes, to adhere to the clarification provided above and approach NAFDAC for the necessary guidance,” it explained.
The agency pointed out that the importance of infant and young child feeding (IYCF) and the continued protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be over-emphasised. “Breastmilk is the best food for the new-born child as it protects them from sicknesses, it also helps to protect infants and young children.
“Breastfeeding is especially effective against infectious diseases as it boosts the child’s immunity by directly transferring antibodies from the mother to the child,” the company added.