Code at the ASEAN Forum

As part of the celebration of the 50th Founding Anniversary of the ASEAN, the Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines hosted the 2017 ASEAN Breastfeeding Forum and Hakab Na (Latch Now)! on 3 to 5 August 2017 in the City of Manila. The theme of the event was “ASEAN Ugnayan (Connection): One Community Promoting, Supporting, and Protecting Breastfeeding.”

DOH believes that human development—specific to the health of infants and young children—has to be addressed to guarantee continued progress of the ASEAN.  DOH therefore invited ASEAN Ministries of Health, Labour, Women, and Economic Development, state-run specialty hospitals for women and children, international health organizations, NGOs and community support groups to this forum to look at breastfeeding from health, human rights, economic, and environmental perspectives from the experience of ASEAN member countries. The forum aimed to create enabling mechanisms that will prime governments, communities, and families with the ideology that the promotion, support, and protection of breastfeeding and complementary feeding are indispensable in providing sustainable nutrition practices for mothers and children which will be passed from one generation to another.

The forum promoted a dynamic exchange of ideas, the expansion of existing networks of breastfeeding and technical assistance for IYCF programmes.

Based on her work in building the capacity of DOH staff in monitoring the Milk Code of the Philippines, Yeong Joo Kean, ICDC’s Legal Advisor was invited to be part of a panel of experts for a parallel session on Implementing and Monitoring the Milk Code.

During her session, Joo Kean talked about IBFAN-ICDC and its role in helping ASEAN countries in drafting, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating national measures which gives effect to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Joo Kean also talked about challenges facing countries in implementing and enforcing national laws and the need for policy makers and health professionals to avoid conflicts of interest.  Joo Kean’s thrust about the need to keep industry at bay from infant and young child feeding programmes resonated with delegates present especially the Breastfeeding Pinays, the organisers of Hakab Na (the Big Latch On) which took place the following day.

Pomp and pageantry and this ASEAN do

Head of delegations of ASEAN countries join hands as  one community to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

(Left) UNICEF Country Rep, Lotta Sylwander, speaks about threats from baby food companies at the opening while Joo Kean (Centre) followed up in a parallel session on how countries in ASEAN have “dropped the baby” when it comes to Code monitoring and enforcement.  (Right) UN and Civil Society come together for the protection of babies.

No mean feat! More than 2000 mothers at the Big Latching On organised by Breastfeeding Pinays as the culminating activity for the ASEAN forum.

Ibfaners from ASEAN countries is a distinctive group at the forum.