Reaching out to breastfeeding peer counsellors and health workers in Malaysia

On 15 August 2015, ICDC’s Legal Advisor, Yeong Joo Kean, was invited as a speaker at the Malaysian Peer Counselor’s Convention for Breastfeeding and Natural Parenting 2015.

The Convention, organised by the Malaysian Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Association, was aimed at encouraging members to embrace their roles as peer counselors, to network with each other and to work towards normalising breastfeeding in the community.

The Convention managed to attract many health professionals from the public and private sectors, signalling the increased awareness of the importance of breastfeeding in protecting child health. The Convention, stretching over three days, covered a wide range of breastfeeding topics and it was indeed an honour for IBFAN-ICDC that a plenary session was allocated to focus on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This Convention was entirely free of sponsorship from the baby feeding industry; something the organisers deserve accolades for.

In her talk, entitled – “Breastfeeding: What’s law go to do with it?” Joo Kean explained how unethical marketing practices sabotage breastfeeding and undermine child health through various channels including the health profession.  Her talk covered marketing practices and trends that threaten breastfeeding and expounded the need for laws to protect parents so they can make infant and young child feeding decisions free of commercial influence.  Joo Kean also stressed on the importance of community monitoring so that companies can be held to account for unethical promotional practices that put child health at risk.

As there were many participants from outside IBFAN-ICDC’s immediate sphere of influence, it is hope that the talk was useful in promoting awareness about the International Code and the crucial role it plays in levelling the playing field so that breastfeeding has a chance.