The Ministry of Health with the statutory responsibility of promoting programs for Health and nutrition closely monitored all the processes leading to the passage of March 22, 2022, Nutrition Bill—the Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (CMBS)—into law, by the 54th Honorable House of Representatives.
Following the passage of the CMBS Bill, there has been misinformation in the public domain based on an erroneous media circulation that Exclusive Breast Feeding is mandatory in Liberia.
Considering the misinformation, we wish to make the following clarifications:
- The purpose of the Bill is to regulate te marketing of foods and other products that threaten the welfare and health of infants and young children in Liberia, It Does Not Make Exclusive Breast Feeding Mandatory for Women.
- The 34th Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes in 1981 as a minimum requirement to protect and promote appropriate infant and young child feeding. It encourages the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants, by protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, and guide the proper use of breastmilk substitutes—if they must be used.
- It is medically proven that breastmilk is the breast food for infants in their first 1000 days. Among several other benefits, exclusive breastfeeding, 0-6 months of birth, makes a child healthy, intelligent, strong, and creates stronger bonds between a child and the mother, and reduces families’ spending on medication and breast milk Substitutes.
- Liberia, as a member of the Comity of nations, is taking steps to domesticate the World Health Assembly’s recommendations. Over 84 countries have domesticated the Code.
With the foregoing, the Ministry of Health, therefore, commends the Honorable House of Representatives of the 54th National Legislature for passing the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitute Bill into Law. We, therefore, encourage the August Body to review recommendations are still opportunities to listen to more opinions before the Senate concurs.
Special thanks to the Ministry of Health through the Nutrition Unit, and other agencies including Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, and the Joint Committee on Health and Judiciary of the House of Representatives. We also appreciate the support of our development partners including WHO, UNICEF, the Irish Embassy, UN REACH, WaterAid, Action Against Hunger, Concern World Wide, and SUNSCAL. We are grateful to other national and international institutions, women’s human rights and protection groups, the mothers, families, and the entire citizenry of the nation who continue to demonstrate support for under-five nutrition. It is hoped that this effort will double to accelerate a healthy and better future for Liberia.
Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah
Ministry of Health
Republic of Liberia