Code Training in Latin America

From August 31 to 2 September, ICDC and IBFAN LAC jointly organised a training course for 33 participants from 16 Latin American countries.  The training, made possible with funding from UNICEF and PAHO and was held at the UNICEF Regional Office in Panama City.

In addition to ICDC trainers, Annelies Allain, Yeong Joo Kean and Jean-Pierre Allain, IBFAN LAC sent three facilitators, Dr Vilma Chaves de Pop (Guatemala), Dr Gloria Ochoa (Colombia) and Amura Hidalgo (Costa Rica) to assist with the Course. The course was conducted in Spanish and where needed, interpretation was provided by Jean-Pierre Allain and course participants. PAHO was represented by Dr Carmen Casanovas, while UNICEF Regional Nutrition Specialist, Stefano Fedele, hosted the training.

Over the three day course, consisting of a series of lectures and working groups, participants came to realise that many laws in the region concentrate too much on breastfeeding promotion and not enough on breastfeeding protection.  Participants also acknowledged that implementing regulations that exist in many countries have a tendency to cover the same subject matters as the principle laws resulting in overlap and inconsistencies. Despite the fact that Code implementation has a chequered record in Latin America, government participants were urged to give effect to existing laws even if these laws were deemed to be weak. At the same time, parallel action can be taken to improve existing laws.

An important feature of the training was the emphasis on the importance of monitoring to hold companies to account. This included discussions on WHO’s Netcode initiative and IBFAN’s Code Monitoring Kit which was launched at the start of the training.

This course was unique in that IBFAN LAC was able to identify 11 lawyers from the region to attend the training. These lawyers, some of whom are completely new to the Code issue, were able to make useful contributions on the legislative framework and legal customs in Latin America and their home countries. As a result of this training, a Legal Advisory Group has been formed to assist IBFAN LAC in legal matters concerning Code implementation, Code monitoring and enforcement of national measures.

The Legal Advisory Group is expected to meet again with ICDC and UNICEF support to review the Spanish version of the Model Law.