ACTION ALERT: CODE VIOLATIONS AT SICK KIDS
"If we were giving the perception of not
being supportive of breastfeeding, that was not our intent. The event won't
take place. Obviously an interesting and important perspective was brought
forward, and we will most certainly consider that perspective in the future."
15 February 2005
Mary Jo Haddad
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Dear Ms. Haddad:
It has come to the attention of INFACT Canada that your hospital is hosting a workshop for health professionals entitled Building Blocks for Paediatric Growth and Nutrition on May 16. It is our understanding that the event is being sponsored by Nestlé Nutrition, Mead Johnson, and Abbot Ross. The workshop is being run through the Specialty Food Shop at Sick Kids.
Mead Johnson, Nestlé and Abbot Ross are all manufacturers of infant formulas and infant food products that come under the scope of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. All three companies are in major breach of this Code in Canada and globally, and thereby put the health of infants and young children at risk because of their promotion of inappropriate feeding practices. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.5 million babies die annually because they are not breastfed. This sponsorship of the Building Blocks for Paediatric Growth and Nutrition workshop being hosted by Sick Kids violates the provisions of the Code.
Specifically, WHA Resolution 49.15 (2) states in its opening paragraphs,
“Concerned that health institutions and ministries may be subject to subtle pressure to accept, inappropriately, financial or other support for professional training in infant and child health;
And urges member states to take the following measures:
(2) to ensure that the financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest, especially with regard to the WHO/UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative;
(3) to ensure that monitoring the application of the International Code and subsequent relevant resolutions is carried out in a transparent, independent manner, free from commercial influence;
This resolution has been re-affirmed in the current World Health Organization executive Board resolution EB115/7 (4), adopted January 24, 2005, which requires that,
“…financial support for professionals working in infant and young child health does not create conflicts of interest;
The International Code was designed to encourage and protect breastfeeding and to remove commercial pressure from infant feeding decisions. This pressure has been shown to interfere with independent advice by health professionals who guide parents in decisions about infant feeding.
Because the health care system has a unique mandate to protect infant health, the International Code requires that hospitals not be used as a conduit for the promotion of feeding practices that may prove to be harmful. The decision to breastfeed carries with it significant health implications for both mother and child. As a consequence, the Code stipulates that the provision of information regarding infant and young child feeding is the responsibility of governments, independent non-governmental organizations and the public health care system, NOT the infant foods industry.
A publicly funded hospital such as the Hospital for Sick Children has the responsibility to provide the highest attainable standard of health for infants and young children under the terms of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 24, Section 1). The Canadian Government ratified this document in 2000.
In light of all of the above, INFACT Canada respectfully requests that the Hospital for Sick Children:
· Cancels its sponsorship agreement with Mead Johnson, Abbot Ross and Nestlé,
· Removes the Mead Johnson, Abbot Ross and Nestlé corporate names and logos from the registration form and/or course materials
· Removes references to corporate sponsors as “generous sponsors”,
· Severs its “education links” between said “generous sponsors” and hospital staff
· Commits to full compliance with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes to protect breastfeeding and infant and young child health.
I enclose, for your reference, “Fourteen Risk of Formula Feeding”, which provides evidence-based information about the risks associated with artificial feeding.
National Director, BSc, MSc, Nutritionist
cc: Helen Simeon, Director, Public Affairs
Hon. Ujjal Dosanjh, Minister of Health
George Smitherman, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Marsha Sharp, Chief Executive Officer, Dietitians of Canada
INFACT Canada’s Board of Directors
A member of the IBFAN Network, recipient of the 1998 Right Livelihood Award,
“for vision and working forming an essential contribution to making life more whole, healing our planet and uplifting humanity.”