The formula mafia is the “biggest enemy of children” in Pakistan as elsewhere in the world, which has become a 100 billion rupee industry in the country, leading health experts said on Saturday, adding that all the money earned by 16 formula marketing companies went overseas because no breastmilk substitutes were made locally.
Citing reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), leading pediatricians have said that formula companies are not just paying social media platforms and influencers to get direct access to pregnant women and mothers. , but also bribed medical professionals, nurses, midwives and other hospital staff. persuade mothers to give their babies formula milk instead of exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months.
“Despite the recommendations of health professionals and even the demand of Islam to feed babies for two years, exclusive breastfeeding does not exceed 50% in Pakistan and one of the reasons is the illegal and contrary commercial practices to the ethics of infant formula manufacturers 100% growth has been witnessed in the infant formula industry in Pakistan over the past five years despite the fact that they are now allowed to direct the marketing of their products said the president of the Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) during the inaugural ceremony of the 26th Biennial International Pediatric Conference in Karachi.
More than 3,000 eminent pediatricians from different cities in Pakistan as well as the United States, various countries in Europe, the Middle and Far East, Africa and other continents attend the three-day competition which takes place stands in Karachi, where Pakistan’s high infant and maternal mortality, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, polio eradication, genetic diseases, childhood cancer and other health issues are being discussed.
On the occasion, Prof. Jamal Raza, who is also the Executive Director of Sindh Institute of Child Health (SICH), announced that SICH’s first 140-bed health facility titled Korangi Children Hospital has started working in the district of Korangi, while efforts were underway to establish three other children’s hospitals on the same model in Sukkur, Shikarpur and Kambar Shahdadkot in Sindh.
During the international competition, almost all leading pediatricians and health experts focused on increasing exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months for newborns and discouraging breastmilk substitutes. .
Many urged authorities to implement existing laws and/or enact new laws to prevent infant formula companies from resorting to direct and indirect marketing of their “unsafe products.”
The head of Unicef’s health section in Pakistan, Dr Hari Banskota, said he also strongly opposes the inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) or formula, saying that Unicef officials did not attend any conferences or meetings where the marketing of breastmilk-milk substitutes is done as is against the international BMS code of marketing.
“But this (inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes) is not just happening in Pakistan, it is happening all over the world and it needs to be discouraged. There is an urgent need to increase exclusive breastfeeding in Pakistan, which not only improves the immune system to better protect babies against infections, but also reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases for women,” said Dr Hari Banskota .
Expressing the rise in malaria cases in flood-hit districts of Sindh and Balochistan, Unicef Pakistan’s health chief said the spread of falciparum malaria species is a serious source of concern because it causes cerebral malaria, which is the most serious neurological complication. of infection.
Commenting on severe acute malnutrition in Pakistani children, Dr Banskota called for looking into nutritional anthropology to understand such endemic malnutrition in Pakistani children, saying that despite resources and technical expertise, the increase in malnutrition in children was beyond comprehension.
APP Secretary General Dr. Khalid Shafi presented the association’s annual report and said that it was cooperating with Pakistan’s health authorities in polio eradication and other immunization campaigns, and that it also organized training sessions for young paediatricians. More recently, he said, they developed oxygen therapy guidelines to prevent newborns from going blind and other complications from inappropriate oxygen therapy.
Several other burning issues like the growing obesity among Pakistani children, the management of diarrhea and pneumonia which are the leading causes of death of children in Pakistan, the impact of disasters and calamities on the mental health of women and children, and crisis management strategies for children’s health. situation were also discussed during the oral argument.