Country review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child
We submitted alternative reports on the situation of breastfeeding in China, Kuwait, Lithuania and Luxembourg to the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC Committee), prepared in collaboration with IBFAN groups in the countries. These countries were reviewed by the CRC Committee in September 2013 (session 64), and were given recommendations to improve the health situation of children, the state of breastfeeding and to regulate the impact of the business sector on child rights.
Read the Report of the 64th session - Click here to see all the alternative reports and here to see our blog.
IBFAN-GIFA also trained 20 representatives from governments and civil society from Mozambique, South Africa, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Swaziland on the main elements to a human rights approach and their application to breastfeeding. This was part of a two-day workshop on ‘Human Rights Approach and Maternity Protection’, organized by IBFAN-Africa in Maputo on 25-27 November 2013.
Realizing the Right to Food and Nutrition
In June 2013, international social movements and civil society organizations launched the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition. This is a milestone in building joint action of public interest groups to act in concert for the realization of one of the most violated human rights worldwide - the human right to adequate food and nutrition. IBFAN is one of the 20 founding members. More info and pictures on the launch and IBFAN-GIFA’s contribution.
In October, IBFAN-GIFA joined the Civil Society Mechanism- the largest international mechanism of civil society organizations and social movements seeking to influence agriculture, food security and nutrition policies and actions. As part of the Nutrition working group, IBFAN-GIFA called for a greater role for nutrition in the Committee on World Food Security - an intergovernmental body which reviews and follows up on food security policies.
IBFAN-GIFA was amongst the more than 140 various civil society organizations (CSOs) around the world that gathered at the Vienna+20 CSO Conference, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights. The Conference discussed and adopted a forward looking declaration, the Vienna+20 CSO Declaration, which stresses the primacy of human rights and calls for a World Conference on Human Rights in 2018.
In October 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) organized an informal consultation on a framework for engagement with non-state actors. IBFAN-GIFA represented IBFAN at this meeting and together with the Democratising Global Health (DGH) coalition of NGOs, we issued a statement and provided comments to the report by the WHO Secretariat. The meeting was an opportunity to establish links with governments and with the Special Envoy of the WHO Director-General, Dr. Thomas Zeltner. A follow-up meeting was organized between him and DGH to share views and acquire more clarity on the reform process and contents.
What do we know about the safety of powdered formulas?
Powdered formulas are not sterile and can contain harmful pathogens (read more). The 2007 WHO Guidelines for the safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula recommend a decontamination step which consists in mixing the formula powder with water that is first boiled and then cooled to no less than 70°C. IBFAN–GIFA has raised concerns over the implementation of the Guidelines with the Department of Food Safety at WHO.
IBFAN is now preparing a survey for the Food Safety Department; examples show that labels on powdered formula packages give incomplete and confusing instructions. This is because reconstitution with water at no cooler than 70°C would kill off the added probiotics and therefore invalidate the marketing strategy based on health claims.
IBFAN’s aim is to alert parents and caregivers to the risks by providing accurate and objective information. For this reason, we are preparing a compilation of worldwide examples of action by government agencies and of inaction by formula manufacturers to implement the WHO Guidelines. We would appreciate input from readers who can provide examples from their countries.
Our latest issue of Breastfeeding Briefs (No. 55) was finalised in September. Written by Adriano Cattaneo, it is entitled "Infant and Young Child Feeding and Chemical Residues" and expands on the IBFAN Statement on the same issue (April 2013). Its first part emphasizes the potential for harm to health and development caused by chemical exposure during pregnancy, and considers the role of breastfeeding in mitigating these harmful effects. This is followed by a detailed explanation on several contaminants and families of contaminants found in our daily environment, such as dioxins, endocrine disruptors, flame retardants, bisphenol A. In its last part, the issue summarizes 10 articles related to the subject. Click here for the French version and here for previous issues.
Investing in Babies
On the 10th of December 2013, the Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission of India, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, launched the World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative (WBCi) Report “The Need to Invest in Babies” by IBFAN. The Report calls upon governments and global communities to invest at least US$ 17.5 billion annually if they genuinely want to improve optimal breastfeeding practices. We are launching this report in January 2014 in Geneva at the WHO Office. Too see the pdf, click here.
News from Switzerland
World Breastfeeding Week in Geneva
IBFAN-GIFA held a stand with information on breastfeeding, alongside La Leche League Suisse Romande, in the main hall of the university hospital maternity, in Geneva. This was the opportunity to strengthen ties with health professionals and parents, and to distribute some key documentation. Amongst others, we shared our flyer “Panorama du réseau allaitement en région genevoise et France voisine" - a brochure listing the different places and types of support for breastfeeding mothers in the region.
Orienting pharmacists on Breastfeeding
In October 2013, GIFA provided an orientation on “Breastfeeding, 3 key roles for pharmacists: protection, promotion and support”, to about 40 Geneva-based pharmacists. The response given by pharmacists to breastfeeding mothers facing difficulties is often critical to the successful continuation of breastfeeding. Pharmacists were sensitized to the relatively recent law limiting the marketing of infant formula (for infants less than 6 months) in their shops and on the importance of advocating for this law to be respected and monitored. This event was held in collaboration with PharmaGenève and the University of Geneva. More info on the law here. For more information contact Rebecca.Norton@gifa.org
Miam La Vie - Geneva breastfeeding promotion project
Switzerland soon to adopt the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, C183 (2000)
Switzerland is in the process of ratifying the Maternity Protection Convention of the ILO. In order to comply with the Convention, a new text has been proposed to clarify breastfeeding breaks in a new regulation. It is hoped that this text will soon be adopted so that all mothers in Switzerland will be better protected at the workplace, in order to be able to continue to breastfeed and work. IBFAN-GIFA supports this initiative (see Open letter sent to Lilian Maury-Pasquier) and in November met with the parliamentarian responsible for this initiative, Ms. Liliane Maury-Pasquier. Also see GIFA brochure developed in 2012 on protecting woman at work.