DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A group of mothers expressed alarm over the decrease of the number of lactating mothers who complete exclusive breastfeeding to their infants, a situation that signals the increase of infants and babies being fed by substitute milk.
The group called LATCH or Lactation Attachment Training Counselling Help in Davao said recent data provided by the Department of Health in Davao Region indicated the decline of the number of mothers who complete their exclusive breastfeeding in the region, particularly in Davao City.
The DOH-11 said the steady decrease in the number of mothers who fail to complete exclusive breastfeeding in Davao City is alarming.
For the first half of this year, the study showed that only 47 percent of mothers complete the breastfeeding requirement, a rate that is lower compared to the 57 percent recorded in 2016.
The agency also took note of the high percentage or 62 percent of mothers that completed their breastfeeding from the years 2013 to 2015.
Lyn Tan, a breastfeeding counselor of LATCH-Davao said among the factors why mothers tend to feed their infants with substitute milk is the intensified campaign of multinational companies in promoting their products through advertisements especially in television, radio and other mediums.
“This happens especially if our moms are not aware in terms of the level of education and the lack of access to information, they are very susceptible to advertisements,” Tan said.
She emphasized though that the country has a law that addresses these advertisements of milk substitutes.
The Milk Code of the Philippines or the Executive Order No. 51 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino aimed to regulate the advertising, marketing, and promotion of breastmilk substitutes.
But aside from the regulation that the law mandates, Tan also took note on the huge budget the breastmilk substitute companies pour in to promote their products.
“We also have to look at the allocation of the government to promote breastfeeding as compared to the billions of budget of pharmaceutical companies promoting their products,” Tan said.
They have all the capacities to hire celebrities or the multi-national advertising companies to promote their products.
“These companies are so sophisticated, aside from their huge budget, they are also backed up with studies on how to reach their markets,” Tan pointed out.
The DOH-11 also said that working mothers are most of those who fail to complete their exclusive breastfeeding to their infants.
“In the workplaces of mothers, the company or management has the responsibility to facilitate educational process to inform workers, especially mothers on their right to continue breastfeeding while working,” said Justine Tajanlangit, a member of LATCH-Davao.
The country has an existing law that mandates a 40-minute break for lactating mothers, Tajanlangit said, adding that this break is on top of the lunch break and the 15-minuted breaks in the morning and afternoon.
“With the existing law, companies should be supportive to their employees especially the lactating mothers,”
Tajanlangit was referring to Republic Act No. 10028, an act expanding the promotion of breastfeeding, amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 7600, otherwise known as “An act providing incentives to all government and private health institutions with rooming-in and breastfeeding practices and for other purposes.”
The 40-minute break, Tajanlangit said, can be divided into different hours in the morning and afternoon while on duty per working day.
“A lactating mother can do breastfeeding, while in the workplace every two hours or depending on the demand of her infant,” she stressed.
Chapter III section 12 of RA 10028 specifically provides: “Nursing employees shall granted break intervals in addition to the regular time-off for meals to breastfeed or express milk. These intervals, which shall include the time it takes an employee to get to and from the workplace lactation station, shall be counted as compensable hours worked. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may adjust the same: Provided, That such intervals shall not be less than a total of forty (40) minutes for every eight (8)-hour working period.”
Alarmed over the result of study by the DOH-11, LATCH Davao is calling on the government to implement the provisions of the laws that support breastfeeding.
“We are celebrating the International Breastfeeding Month this August and this can be an opportunity to intensify education campaigns on breastfeeding,” Tan said.
LATCH-Davao is currently in partnership with major hospitals in the city, including the Southern Philippines Medical Center where the group’s volunteers give counselling and talks on breastfeeding and its benefits to infants. (davaotoday.com)