Ministry Urges Mothers to Breast-Feed Babies

The Ministry of Health on Monday attacked baby-food companies’ alleged strong-arm marketing tactics during a seminar held at the National Maternal and Child Center.

Mam Bun Heng, a secretary of state for the ministry, told more than 100 health workers and specialists that from now on no baby-food promotional material will be allowed in the country’s health care facilities, and medical staff may no longer accept free product samples.

Such practices have created confusion and made mothers believe that milk formula products are better than breastmilk, he said.

Mam Bun Heng said all ministry health workers will be instructed to encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies up to two years after birth.

Breast-feeding can protect both mothers and children from disease and could reduce the infant mo­rtality rate in Cambodia, among the highest in Asia, he said. According to the Demo­graphic and Health Survey 2000, 124 Cambodian children per 1,000 die before the age of 5.

Ministry officials on Monday issued nonmandatory baby-food marketing guidelines, which they hope companies will follow while a law containing the provisions is being drafted.

Also on Monday, the ministry unveiled its public information campaign on breast-feeding. This will include a training program for health workers so that they can tell mothers about the benefits of breast-feeding, said Chhin Lan, breast-feeding program coordinator for the ministry.


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