New Vision (Kampala)

13 August 2012

Uganda: Minister Wants Strong Regulation for Advertising Baby Formulas

Health minister, Dr. Christine Ondoa has called for strong regulation of advertising processed food given to babies, saying the practice had contributed to the low level of breastfeeding among Ugandan mothers.

She said some of the adverts were misleading mothers to think that the formulas were better than breast milk.

"Several studies have shown that one of the challenges the country faces is aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes for children at birth, thus undermining women's confidence to breastfeed," she said.

She made the remarks at a Community Fair organized by World Vision to commemorate Breastfeeding Week, at Magola Primary School in Tororo district.

The minister noted that despite several interventions by the Government to promote breastfeeding as a means to control malnutrition among infants, the trend was worrying.

She cited statistics from the 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey, which show that only 42% of infants are breastfed within an hour of birth.

The survey also shows that only 24% of Ugandan children aged between six and 23 months are fed in compliance to the infant and young child feeding practices.

Ondoa, whose speech was read by state minister for primary education, Dr. Richard Nduhura, faulted employers for not granting mothers their 60-day maternity leave.

She warned that low level of breastfeeding was behind the high rate of malnutrition among infants estimated at 33%; wasting at 5% and being underweight at 15%.

The minister explained that lack of breastfeeding had contributed to the high infant mortality rate which stands at 54% deaths per 1,000 live births, and under-five mortality rates of 90 deaths per 1,000 live births.

She urged employers to create a conducive environment and provide facilities for working mothers to breastfeed their children.

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