PESHAWAR: Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has put on notice all companies in the province who are producing formula milk to highlight the importance of breast milk on the product’s packaging.
Officials with knowledge of the government’s plans stated that a large number of formula milk producing companies have been introduced and marketing their products in the country which, according to some health experts, was discouraging breastfeeding.
They said that some mothers were now requesting doctors to prescribe formula milk for their kids as an alternative to breastfeeding. They added that since formula milk companies offer attractive packages to doctors and market well to the public who put the query to doctors, health experts prescribed formula milk for children.
They stated that according to the government’s plans to make the public service message mandatory, milk producers would be required to cover around 40 per cent of their entire packaging with messages about the importance of breast milk to children. In this regards, the officials said that the government had issued a 60-day deadline to milk companies.
After the deadline expires, officials said that any company which fails to comply with the government’s instructions, their product would be declared as illegal and forced off the shelves.
The special message, ‘Mothers milk is the best for your baby and helps in preventing diarrhoea and other illnesses’ will be required to be printed on the packaging. The message is also being translated into Urdu, read an official document tweeted out by K-P Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai recently.
The message would be required to be printed in bold, red letters over a white background.
“Breast milk is the first defence against different diseases, rather I would call it a vaccine against different diseases,” child specialist and president of the K-P chapter of the Pakistan Paediatric Association Dr Amin Jan told The Express Tribune.
He said that the introduction of formula milk and its uptake among the public and doctors was such that the ratio for breastfeeding in Pakistan had dropped to just 40 per cent.
He added that a large number of people, primarily in the urban centres, have moved towards formula milk. “Now bottle feeding is being discouraged in other parts of the world,” Dr Jan said of the global trend reversal.
“As many as 33 per cent of childhood diseases can be cured by breast milk and it is also a fact that 35 per cent of children are badly malnourished just because mothers prefer bottle feeding over breast milk,” Dr Jan said, adding that in the developed countries, some people were turning to selling human milk since they knew of its importance.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2017.