The Thirty-third World Health Assembly,

Recalling resolutions WHA27.43 and WHA31.47 which in particular reaffirmed that breastfeeding is ideal for the harmonious physical and psychosocial development of the child, that urgent action is called for by governments and the Director-General in order to intensify activities for the promotion of breastfeeding and development of actions related to the preparation and use of weaning foods based on local products, and that there is an urgent need for countries to review sales promotion activities on baby foods and to introduce appropriate remedial measures, including advertisement codes and legislation, as well as to take appropriate supportive social measures for mothers working away from their homes during the lactation period;

Recalling further resolutions WHA31.55 and WHA32.42 which emphasized maternal and child health as an essential component of primary health care, vital to the attainment of health for all by the year 2000;

Recognizing that there is a close interrelationship between infant and young child feeding and social and economic development, and that urgent action by governments is required to promote the health and nutrition of infants, young children and mothers, inter alia through education, training and information in this field;

Noting that a joint WHA/UNICEF Meeting on Infant and Young Child Feeding was held from 9 to 12 October 1979, and was attended by representatives of governments, the United Nations system and technical agencies, nongovernmental organizations active in the area, the infant food industry and other scientists working in this field;

1. ENDORSES in their entirety the statement and recommendations made by the joint WHO/UNICEF Meeting, namely on the encouragement and support of breastfeeding; the promotion and support of appropriate weaning practices; the strengthening of education, training and information; the promotion of the health and social status of women in relation to infant and young child feeding; and the appropriate marketing and distribution of breastmilk substitutes. This statement and these recommendations also make clear the responsibility in this field incumbent on the health services, health personnel, national authorities, women's and other nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations agencies and the infant-food industry, and stress the importance for countries to have a coherent food and nutrition policy and the need for pregnant and lactating women to be adequately nourished; the joint Meeting also recommended that "There should be an international code of marketing of infant formula and other products used as breastmilk substitutes. This should be supported by both exporting and importing countries and observed by all manufacturers. WHO and UNICEF are requested to organize the process for its preparation, with the involvement of all concerned parties, in order to reach a conclusion as soon as possible";

2. RECOGNIZES the important work already carried out by the World Health Organization and UNICEF with a view to implementing these recommendations and the preparatory work done on the formulation of a draft international code for marketing of breastmilk substitutes;

3. URGES countries which have not already done so to review and implement resolutions WHA27.43 and WHA32.42;

4. URGES women's organizations to organize extensive information dissemination campaigns in support of breastfeeding and healthy habits;

5. REQUESTS the Director-General:

(1) to cooperate with Member States on request in supervising or arranging for the supervision of the quality of infant foods during their production in the country concerned, as well as during their importation and marketing;

(2) to promote and support the exchange of information on laws, regulations, and other measures concerning marketing of breastmilk substitutes;

6. FURTHER REQUESTS the Director-General to intensify his activities for promoting the application of the recommendations of the joint WHO/UNICEF Meeting and, in particular:

(1) to continue efforts to promote breastfeeding as well as sound supplementary feeding and weaning practices as a prerequisite to healthy child growth and development;

(2) to intensify coordination with other international and bilateral agencies for the mobilization of the necessary resources for the promotion and support of activities related to the preparation of weaning foods based on local products in countries in need of such support and to collate and disseminate information on methods of supplementary feeding and weaning practices successfully used in different cultural settings;

(3) to intensify activities in the field of health education, training and information on infant and young child feeding, in particular through the preparation of training and other manuals for primary health care workers in different regions and countries;

(4) to prepare an international code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes in close consultation with Member States and with all other parties concerned including such scientific and other experts whose collaboration may be deemed appropriate, bearing in mind that:

(a) the marketing of breastmilk substitutes and weaning foods must be viewed within the framework of the problems of infant and young child feeding as a whole;

(b) the aim of the code should be to contribute to the provision of safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children, and in particular to promote breastfeeding and ensure, on the basis of adequate information, the proper use of breastmilk substitutes, if necessary;

(c) the code should be based on existing knowledge of infant nutrition;

(d) the code should be governed inter alia by the following principles:

(i) the production, storage and distribution, as well as advertising, of infant feeding products should be subject to national legislation or regulations, or other measures as appropriate to the country concerned;

(ii) relevant information on infant feeding should be provided by the health care system of the country in which the product is consumed;

(iii) products should meet international standards of quality and presentation, in particular those developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and their labels should clearly inform the public of the superiority of breastfeeding;

(5) to submit the code to the Executive Board for consideration at its sixty-seventh session and for forwarding with its recommendations to the Thirty-fourth World Health Assembly, together with proposals regarding its promotion and implementation, either as a regulation in the sense of Articles 21 or 22 of the Constitution of the World Health Organization or as a recommendation in the sense of Article 23, outlining the legal and other implications of each choice;

(6) to review the existing legislation in different countries for enabling and supporting breastfeeding, especially by working mothers, and to strengthen the Organization's capacity to cooperate on the request of Member States in developing such legislation;

(7) to submit to the Thirty-fourth World Health Assembly, in 1981, and thereafter in even years, a report on the steps taken by WHO to promote breastfeeding and to improve infant and young child feeding, together with an evaluation of the effect of all measures taken by WHO and its Member States.

May 1980

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