The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised companies involved in donation or marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (BMS) to keep to the World Health Organisation (WHO) code.
Prof. Moji Adeyeye, Director General (DG) of NAFDAC, gave the advice in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.
Adeyeye said that such substitutes for infants should not be provided through health workers.
She said that breastmilk products were not expected to display company brand as the intervention was not meant for brand promotion.
“In keeping with the WHO International Code of Marketing of BMS, NAFDAC wishes to provide the following clarifications regarding donations of BMS in the context of lockdown and financial barriers occasioned by the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Companies that market foods for infants and young children should not provide free products, samples, or reduced-price foods for infants (below 6 months old) to families through health workers or health facilities.
“They can only provide such products as supplies distributed through government or officially sanctioned health programmes.
“Also, the WHO International Code of Marketing of BMS requires that products distributed in such programmes should not display company brands.
`In this specific instance, the unbranded packaging is to focus on the need to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where necessary, in terms of infant and young child feeding.
“This will discourage the use of the pandemic as a platform for brand promotion.”
She advised infant food manufacturers/distributors and NGOs wishing to make foods for infants and young children available for distribution to adhere to the clarification provided above and approach NAFDAC for the necessary guidance.
“The importance of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) and the continued protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be over-emphasised.
“Breast milk is the best food for the newborn child as it protects them from sicknesses.
“Breastfeeding is especially effective against infectious diseases as it boosts the child’s immunity by directly transferring antibodies from the mother to the child.”
She urged the general public to consult authorities for information on the proper feeding methods for infants in the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic.
She said: “For specific advice on breastfeeding in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic please visit the following websites:
“WHO for the guidance titled ‘Breastfeeding advice during the COVID-19 outbreak available at:http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/nutrition-infocus/breastfeeding-advice-during-covid-19-outbreak.html
“UNICEF for the guidance titled Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic’ available at: https://www.unicef.org/eap/breastfeeding-during-covid-19
The DG reassured the general public that NAFDAC would continue to safeguard public health, including neonates and older infants, within the purview of its mandate, as Nigeria continues to confront the raging COVID-19 pandemic. (NAN)