One Day in Bangkok

In April 2017, the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand passed the Control of Marketing of Infant and Young Child Food Act.  This Law gives effect to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent WHA resolutions and was a process that took almost 20 years to culminate. IBFAN-ICDC which started working with the Thai breastfeeding groups since the early 1980s can attest to the hard work and commitment that those involved put into the travails of law making.  Over the years, ICDC had trained 12 government officials on Code implementation and Code monitoring and the impact of our training can be seen in  Thai advocacy materials which refer to information and graphics from ICDC publications and slides.

The law that finally got adopted is neither ideal nor perfect but it is an important step forward knowing the opposition Thai breastfeeding advocates had to face from industry and their affiliates.

In July 2017, with support from UNICEF Thailand, the Ministry of Public Health(MOPH) invited ICDC to conduct a training of trainers and to provide technical support for establishing a viable system for monitoring and enforcement of Thai Law.

ICDC’s Legal Advisor Joo Kean Yeong was accompanied by ICDC intern Hacer Tanrikulu.  It was like a meeting of old friends as three of the selected trainers were ICDC alumni.  The one-day workshop focused on analysis of the Thai Law vis-à-vis the International Code and what promotional practices to look out for in Thailand.  Discussion also revolved around the need to avoid conflicts of interest in infant and young child feeding programmes and a plan of action with a timeline to establish a viable surveillance system to give effect to the Thai Law.

Participants were reminded that Thailand has the necessary infrastructures for the Thai Law to be implemented, monitored and enforced. However, political will and policy cohesiveness are key. Commitment, perseverance and creativity are required to give effect to the law.

ICDC plans to visit Thailand over the next 12 months to follow up on progress.

(Left) Women in black – ICDC Team with Thai trainers. (Right)  Senior advocates are on board alongside the young.

(Left) Consultant says ICDC’s on archives on Thailand dates back to 1981. (Right) The Thai team strategises – small but cohesive.