A notification was issued on Monday for the establishment of a National Infant Feeding Board (NIFB) at the federal level for implementation of the Protection of Breastfeeding and Young Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002. The directive was issued by the Ministry of Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the head of the National Nutrition Directorate Dr Baseer Achakzai said after the devolution of the Ministry of Health under the 18th Amendment, the establishment of the board was in doldrums. The provinces will constitute infant feeding committees for the implementation of breastfeeding laws made after devolution, once the board is established. Punjab and Sindh have passed laws in this regard whereas Balochsitan and K-P are still in the process, he said.
The board and its committees will help keep a check on people who violate the law such as doctors who prescribe formula milk to mothers instead of encouraging them to breastfeed, he said.
“In Pakistan due to poor breastfeeding practices, children are not growing healthier, they are underweight, they have weak immune systems due to which they acquire diseases such as diarrhoea which usually results in fatalities,” he said.
Any doctor found violating the law by the board or the committee members will be sent to jail for six months and fined between Rs0.3 million to 0.5 million. If he is subsequently found guilty of malpractice, his licence will be cancelled by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, he added.
Dr Achakzai said Pakistan has failed to improve its breastfeeding rate over the past decade. “At present, the breastfeeding rate in Pakistan is 38 per cent and bottle-feeding rate is 48 per cent which is alarming.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2013.