I am a strong believer in Breast fed babies but it was only when I came to the Philippines did I understand the problems caused by large corporations. Many people are living in poverty with the inability to feed themselves but are told on television they need to buy expensive powdered milks that will make there kids smarter and taller, obviously its complete nonsense for people coming from the West but if your brought up on these lies maybe you too might skip a meal a day so you could afford your child’s milk?
What has happened in Indonesia is something that the Philippines should take a leaf out of the countries book for they have actually made it a legal requirement to breast feed for the first six months. The new law has been passed and stipulates all babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. From early next year, anyone who stands in the way of this will be fined up to 100m rupiah (£7,000; $11,000) and sentenced to up to a year in prison. For many not aware of the damage powdered milk companies have done to many Asian countries the fact of the matter is breast milk offers not only a cheaper option but also the ability to build up the child’s immune system giving them a stronger chance of survival.
Many kids reside in the slums of Jakarta which leave people eating,sleeping and having animal waste in a close proximity due to the goats and chickens wandering a breeding ground for disease and a major cause of the high death rate amongst children. The charity Mercy Corps organised meetings with mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding to try and tackle the miss selling by the powdered milk companies on television to find that most people initially did not believe them that breast feeding was better for their children. Health workers explained the benefits of how it builds up the children’s immune system if breastfed for the initial six months from birth.
Also supporting this information is the World Food Organisation and Unicef who have also stated that if Indonesia takes this issue seriously and addresses it there could be a serious drop in the malnutrition rate within the country. A survey in 2007 surveying children upto the age of five showed that 40% of the children had stunted growth due to malnutrition.
One of the other major factors is that the majority of women have to return back to work early unable to continue breast feeding but this new law will actually force companies to provide breast feeding facilities for the mothers.
"The law will have detailed steps on how companies must provide facilities for nursing mothers to breastfeed as well as to pump and store their breast milk," said Tari Tritarayati of Indonesia’s Ministry of Health.
"It will also regulate milk companies, to ensure they don’t give incentives to health care workers to push their products."
These are significant steps in a country which has been criticised for not doing enough to protect the rights of working mothers.
The government is still being critised though by some as “not doing enough” in relation to the billion pound industry of formula milk advertising. These companies openly hold events touting the miracle milk as something spectacular and the only real choice for a child.
The BBC spoke to Nestle on the subject one of the biggest players in the formula milk industry in Indonesia (As well as the Philippines!) : –
"We strongly disagree with any such accusation that Nestle actively and aggressively promotes our infant formula products in Indonesia.
"Nestle believes that breast milk is best for babies, and we support exclusive breastfeeding for six months from the baby’s birth."
The statement goes on to say that Nestle also provides breastfeeding rooms in their offices, and breastfeeding posters to health institutions.
Ok I will say it if no-one else does "Nestle is lying!” I actively see their campaigns daily in the Philippines and no doubt its the same in Indonesia I have also seen their trading practices and boycott them as much as possible because of it.
My final word on this topic though is “BREAST MILK IS THE ONLY MILK FOR A BABY” it shouldn’t even be a debate, natural will always be best and remember companies like Nestle need your money and that is all they are after. If they are giving something they are taking a lot more.