Tuesday 31 May 2011

Czech Republic: Delegation at the CRC unprepared on the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitues

(Geneva, 31 May 2011) 
The Czech Republic was reviewed by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on the progress of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The most pressing issues revolved around Roma children.

The Committee members posed many questions on the issue of breastfeeding, making wide use of the alternative report provided by IBFAN.

When asked about breastfeeding policies in their country, the representatives of the Ministry of Health (MoH) stated that the government actively supports breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months. The government is in the process of preparing a new standard on infant nutrition which will cover both breastfeeding and artificial feeding, according to the government representative.

In addition, CRC members asked the delegation about the measures that the government has taken in order to protect breastfeeding through regulating the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. They said that they have received information that formula is being distributed in  hospitals and requested the government to state the measures taken in this regard.

Following this question, the members of the delegation representing the MoH seemed very confused. They said that they had no information, since this did not belong to the area of work of their Ministry.

CRC Member, Ms. Wijemanne, clarified that the Committee considered important not only the adoption of a national code for marketing of breastmilk substitutes, but also its systematic monitoring. Then she asked the delegation about the duration of maternity leave. Again the representatives of the MoH were confused and required the intervention of the representative of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

This showed that health issues in general, and breastfeeding in particular are considered in a fragmented and sectoral approach by the government of the Czech Republic. It also shows that the Ministry of Health is not working on the protection of breastfeeding  through the the regulation of marketing of breastmilk substitutes. Nor is it involved in the protection of breastfeeding through maternity protection.

For a summary of the whole discussion please refer to the Press Release from UNOG

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