A draft of a regulatory act named; the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition (amended) act 2013 has now been approved by the law department. The regulatory draft will now be sent for approval to the cabinet, and eventually will be tabled before the assembly to be adopted as a law.
According to media reports; All the four provinces have planned to adopt their own law, mostly copying the 2002 ordinance with slight amendments. Sindh had taken lead to adopt the law. It is currently being debated in the Balochistan Assembly.
The draft law had been sent to the law department for vetting five months ago. It got approval and was returned to the department of health for further necessary action and implementation. The KPK province already had an ordinance in place, promulgated in 2002, by former President Gen. (retired) Pervez Musharraf.
The KPK’s proposed law aims to make the manufacturers of formula milk bound to seek permission for marketing and sale of their products and award penalties to health workers for prescribing bottled or packaged milk and its products to the people.
As per statements from the relevant officials; “It (the law) seeks to check production and marketing of formula baby milk, by placing a ban on illegal promotional tactics by the influential multinational companies.”
After the devolution of power to the provincial governments, it had become obligatory upon the provinces to have their own law, approved and implemented by the parliament.
Due to the reservations expressed by Pakistan Pediatrics Association the previous attempts to implement such a law were not approved, The draft law covers all food-related matters. Some additional clauses were suggested into the new law.
It was further reported that according to Officials; the companies who have often been accused of presenting baby milk as substitute of breast milk through their aggressive marketing tactics due to which the gullible parents opted to spend huge money on those products. The law calls for campaign to spread the message that infants should be breastfed for two years because it raises their immunity against childhood diseases.
A five-member Infant Feeding Board will be set up, which will include two members of the provincial assembly and as many technical experts on nutrition and infant development to be nominated by the government and one representative of the manufacturers of formula milk. The board will be tasked to recommend action against those violating the law.The board will have services of inspectors who will carry out field visits and also recommend investigation against health professionals, distributors and manufacturers for violation of the law. It also prohibits manufacturers from giving gifts to the doctors in return for prescribing their products to the patients.
The Violators of this law will have to face two years imprisonment or Rs 50,000 penalty or both.
The manufacturers will not be able to display posters, banners and print pictorial images and graphics that tend to discourage breastfeeding. The government will be responsible to make it part of the job description of the health workers to effectively promote breastfeeding.
Officials said the doctors violating the law will also face action as the government will send complaints to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. The people, organisations, manufacturers and dealers will be allowed to file appeal in the high court against their sentence within 30 days.