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The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes: 10 years later

On 21 May 1981, by resolution WHA34.22, the Thirty-fourth World Health Assembly adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes in the form of a recommendation, in the sense of Article 23 of the WHO Constitution. A synthesis of action taken in countries from 1981-90, from information available to WHO, is given in the WHO document "The International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes: Synthesis of Reports on Action Taken (1981-1990)", WHO/MCH/NUT/90.1, issued in English, French and Spanish, which may be obtained from the Nutrition Unit, WHO Geneva. The intention in synthesizing all the information is to provide an overall picture of the steps that more than 150 countries and territories have taken during the last decade - individually, and in some cases collectively, through regional and interregional forums - to give effect to the principles and aims of the International Code.

Many non-governmental and other organizations have responded to the responsibility put forward in the Code (Article 11.4) for implementation and monitoring. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) is a coalition of more than 140 citizen groups in 70 developing and industrialized nations. The network promotes optimum child feeding practices world-wide and monitors compliance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, which it helped to develop. IBFAN regularly informs WHO of the activities of its affiliates in support of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, including research, social support for women, breast-feeding promotion, and implementation of the International Code. The 1991 State-of-the-Code by Country - IBFAN's survey of measures taken by governments to implement its provisions - shows the position ten years after the Code was adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 1981. A booklet "Protecting Infant Health: A Health Workers' Guide to the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes" is now available, from the International Organization of Consumers Unions (IOCU was a founding member of IBFAN), in 16 languages (Address: PO Box 1045, 10830 Penang, Malaysia).

(Sources: WHO/MCH/NUT/90.1; UNICEF)

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