Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Low rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the artificial milk exporter country of New Zealand worry the Committee on the Rights of the Child

New Zealand was reviewed by the CRC Committee on the 19th of January 2011. One of the major concerns of the Committee concerned the hardening of the juvenile justice system who has taken up a more punitive approach, contrary to the recommendations of the Committee and the spirit of the Convention. The Committee on the Rights of the Child is concerned about the low exclusive breastfeeding rates for infants under 6 months. It questioned the government on the measures that have been taken to promote breastfeeding. 

The government response on the health issues came from Mr. Patrick Tuohy from the Ministry of Health. He said that government considers breastfeeding to be very important. Breastfeeding rates are moderate, he said, and they are lower among the Maori population, and for this reason the government has done social marketing especially among indigenous groups. 

The government also mentioned measures taken for implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. It has been adopted as a voluntary agreement between the government and baby food industry. However, alternative reports from breastfeeding advocates in New Zealand show that the implementation of the Code is weak and there is no state monitoring of Code compliance. The baby food industries in New Zealand are very strong and this impedes the government from enforcing the voluntary agreement into a national law. 

The government representative mentioned the importance of breastfeeding in fighting obesity. In this respect, the government, according to Mr. Tuohy, has released new guidelines for nutrition and overweight, and has adopted the 2006 WHO Growth Charts. These charts show that what used to seem as retarded growth in old New Zealand charts is actually a normal growth rate for breastfed infants.