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The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, has highlighted the critical role that aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) plays in undermining optimal breastfeeding practices.

Speaking during the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week celebration, Prof Adeyeye emphasized NAFDAC’s unwavering dedication to promoting and safeguarding breastfeeding. This report explores NAFDAC’s stance, the incorporation of relevant regulations, the significance of breastfeeding for working parents, and the comprehensive approach undertaken to foster a conducive breastfeeding environment.

Addressing Threats to Breastfeeding

Prof Adeyeye underscored the concerns posed by aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes to the promotion of breastfeeding. NAFDAC recognizes the importance of optimal breastfeeding practices and has taken a proactive approach to address these challenges. The revised Marketing of Infant and Young Children Food and other Designated Products (Registration, Sales etc.) Regulation now integrates crucial World Health Assembly resolutions and recommendations related to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2023

The theme for the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week, ‘Enabling breastfeeding – making a difference for working parents,’ resonates with the need to enhance collaboration across society to support and encourage breastfeeding, particularly for working mothers. Prof Adeyeye highlighted the pivotal role that workplaces play in this context, as challenges within the workplace often lead to premature cessation of breastfeeding.

Creating Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplaces

Prof Adeyeye stressed the significance of having appropriate breastfeeding facilities within workplaces. A breastfeeding-friendly environment is crucial for working mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants. She pointed out that such an environment not only positively impacts the health and well-being of breastfeeding employees’ babies but also results in reduced absenteeism due to decreased incidence and severity of illnesses among infants.

Continued Efforts Required

While acknowledging the progress made, Prof Adeyeye emphasized that much work remains to be done to establish an environment that truly promotes optimal breastfeeding. She stressed the importance of various strategies, one of which is ensuring strict adherence to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This code serves as a shield against inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes and actively promotes breastfeeding.

Establishment of the Office of Women’s Health

As part of its comprehensive approach, NAFDAC has established the Office of Women’s Health. This multi-disciplinary center is dedicated to addressing issues related to maternal and child health continually. The creation of this office underscores NAFDAC’s commitment to fostering an environment that supports and prioritizes child health.

Health Benefits for Mothers and Infants

Prof Adeyeye highlighted the manifold health benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and infants. Breastfeeding contributes to preventing postpartum bleeding, supporting child spacing, reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers, and assisting mothers in returning to their pre-pregnancy body weight earlier.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, eloquently articulated the agency’s dedication to promoting optimal breastfeeding practices. By addressing the challenges posed by aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes and implementing strategies to foster breastfeeding-friendly workplaces, NAFDAC stands firm in its commitment to the well-being of mothers and infants.

The establishment of the Office of Women’s Health further underscores the agency’s holistic approach to maternal and child health. Through these initiatives, NAFDAC plays a pivotal role in advocating for the best nutrition, health, and environmental outcomes for all.

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