On the 19th September the consultancy firm SAR International Inc of Madison wrote a letter to the Ministry of Health, Ghana, on behalf of its client, US Food & Pharmaceuticals. The letter refers to "launching 'My Baby' infant formula in Ghana" and suggests that the Ministry identifies non-profit organisations to request free supplies of My Baby infant formula. According to the letter, aid donors will then be asked to fund the supplies.
The letter states that My Baby will be for "distribution free of charge to the childrens hospitals, clinics and women clinics hospitals," and says that non-profit organisations: "should express and (sic) interest in the products and that it will be responsible to distribute the products, nationally, free of charge."
Free supplies are banned in any part of the health care system by the World Health Assembly Resolution 47.5, because they undermine breastfeeding and encourage artificial infant feeding.
The letter also makes the following offer:
"US Foods and Pharmaceuticals will visit in-country, with Physicians to discuss with the National Government's Ministry of Health, the non profit organization handling this project, nutritionists and doctors about childcare nutrition benefits. A one to two days seminar on this subject matter will be held, sponsored by US Foods and Pharmaceuticals. The seminar will be conducted by USF&P."
The 1996 World Health Assembly Resolution, WHA 49.15, calls for care in ensuring that funding for health professionals does not create conflicts of interest.
The letter states that the project is also intended for the following countries:
Baby Milk Action spoke with SAR International and suggested that the organisations involved in the project contact WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to better understand the provisions of the International Code and Resolutions. US Foods and Pharmaceuticals contacted UNICEF shortly after this suggestion, but has so far failed to respond to Baby Milk Action's request of 5th February to discuss the project with us (as of 20th February).
SAR faxed Baby Milk Action a letter on 12th February denying that the products will be free and says it is "responding to specific needs of these organizations."
Write to US Foods & Pharmaceuticals and call on it to clarify the details of the project and to ensure that it abides by the International Code and Resolutions.
The International Code was adopted under a Resolution of the World Health Assembly in 1981 as a "minimum requirement" to be implemented in its "entirety" (World Health Assembly Resolution 34.22). One reason for targeting Nestlé with boycott action is the lead it takes in attacking implementation of the International Code and subsequent, relevant Resolutions in national measures.
In July 1997 Nestlé gave its public support to a motion put before the Church of England Synod. The motion called for governments to implement the International Code and Resolutions and for companies to abide by them.
Yet Nestlé continues in its attempts to weaken government measures. Sri Lanka is now being lobbied by Nestlé. In a letter dated August 15th 1997 Nestlé requested a meeting (which took place on 4th December) and laid out its concerns with the Government's review of the Sri Lanka Code for the Promotion and Protection of Breast Feeding and Marketing of Infant Formulae and Related Products. Nestlé's complaints include:
It appears that Nestlé has already forgotten the support it voiced for the International Code and Resolutions when the Church of England Synod debated the issue, even though Nestlé's promotional activities in Sri Lanka were specifically criticised. Resolution 49.15, adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1996, urges Member States to take the following measures:
Write to Nestlé requesting that it explains why it is not honouring its stated commitment to support implementation of the International Codeand Resolutions in Sri Lanka.