United Nations’ agencies, governmental and non-governmental institutions, professionals, and scientists have for many years emphasised the importance of breast feeding for the optimal growth and development of children. In 1981, the World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as a minimum international standard to ensure the proper use of breast milk substitutes. The code is based on adequate information and appropriate marketing and distribution practices.
In west Africa, few countries have adopted national policies to implement these principles. This is of concern as recent findings suggest that bottle feeding is being encouraged by the increased value placed on “modern” behaviours and through contact with western health practices, exposure to mass media, and aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes. It is therefore crucial to monitor the marketing practices of manufacturers and to ensure that their conduct conforms to the code and relevant resolutions.
BMJ 2003;326;127.

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