Ban infant milk formula?
A necessity or a complete over-reaction? Moms need more education, that's all...

17 May 2010

A recent statement by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, made last Thursday, where he stated that infant milk formula should be banned worldwide, has caused much consternation from mothers around the country.

Since 1995 the advertising of infant milk formula was banned in the UK and cut back elsewhere in the world due to an emphasis on the importance of breastfeeding in order to help reduce infant mortality.

Motsoaledi mentioned proposing the banning of infant milk formula at the World Health Assembly this week. He knew he would shock people with his proposed ban, but he claims formulas are "no different from skin lightening creams", which are banned in South Africa.

"We know that breastfeeding is by far the best - all around the world nothing can ever beat breastfeeding."

The World Health Organisation recommends that in most cases babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months.

There is no doubt that breastfeeding for 6 months to 2 years is best, but my question for the Health Minister would be what happens after those first vital 6 months? What about mothers who are separated from their babies - through circumstances or needing to return to work, who struggle to breastfeed or who may be too ill to do so.

As a pro-breastfeeding mother I know the importance of breastfeeding for as long as possible, and how convenient it can be if one is able to breastfeed successfully - with breastmilk constantly on hand and no cost involved. But not all moms are that lucky.

Perhaps what should be done instead is a greater drive to promote the value of breastfeeding in South Africa, as opposed to removing a lifeline from woman who have little or no choice, yet still want the best for their baby. What do you think?

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