Rights experts want Caribbean to do more in supporting breastfeeding

CMC – United Nations human rights experts are urging Caribbean and other countries to do more to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as a human right.

This includes ending the inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes and other foods intended for infants and young children, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

PAHO said the joint statement was issued by the UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food and the Right to Health, the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Citing new evidence published in the Lancet medical journal earlier this year, the experts emphasized the importance and many benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and her child.

They expressed concern about the lack of progress made in improving breastfeeding rates globally and in providing women and their children with the support and protection they are entitled to, PAHO said. It said the experts voiced particular concern about the continued misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes and other foods intended for infants and young children.

They pointed out that there is little corporate accountability for the adverse consequences of such marketing practices, which, the experts said, “continue to undermine efforts to improve early and exclusive breastfeeding rates.”

PAHO said marketing practices act as barriers for women to exercise their rights, “as they often negatively affect the choice and ability of mothers to enjoy the many health benefits breastfeeding provides.”

The experts also welcomed renewed global efforts to protect and support breastfeeding and to reduce the inappropriate marketing of commercially prepared foods for infants and young children.

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