Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Action at Philippines Supreme Court on behalf of bottle babies

We have now received pictures from our partners in the Philippines of their action at the Supreme Court on 6 December. See

They filed a submission in support of the Ministry of Health regulations on the marketing of baby foods. In case you have not been following this situation, the regulations are under attack from the baby food industry and US Chamber of Commerce. Baby Milk Action's campaign of solidarity has been helping to put this in the spotlight, generating headlines in the Philippines and coverage elsewhere.

That same day the government lawyer defending the case was assassinated, which the Solicitor General of the Philippines said may be linked to it. However, the lawyer, Assistant Solicitor General Nestor J. Ballocillo, was involved in challenging other powerful vested interests, so no conclusions have yet been made. See

Representatives of the coalition in the Philippines went to the Supreme Court to file papers, accompanied by a 9 month old child they describe as a 'victim of bottle feeding'. Here are Miguel and mother Gloria. Miguel began on Nestlé Nestogen (the formula Nestlé promotes as having 'Brain Building Blocks') and was moved onto other formulas, a common occurence when children start to become sick and mothers think it must be the particular brand disagreeing with them. Reassured by the claims made on packs and labels, they do not realise that the formula is not only without the protection against infection provided by breastmilk, but may itself be contaminated with pathogens such as Enterobacter Sakazakii. Nestlé is currently opposing a World Health Assembly Resolution calling for warnings on labels.

Supreme Court - bottle baby victim

While Miguel has suffered from the risks associated with artificial feeding, other children have died. According to the World Health Organisation, 16,000 infants die in the Philippines every year through inappropriate feeding.

The Philippines regulations are intended to stop aggressive promotion which encourages mothers and health workers to favour artificial feeding over bottle feeding. I have posted with the pictures an advertisement from Wyeth (known in the UK as SMA) for its Progress formula. This advertising was to be illegal under the regulations until the legal action by Wyeth and friends caused the regulations to be suspended. While Nestlé is making much of not being part of the legal action, it has also opposed the prohibition on promotion of products such as this, a follow-on milk for babies from one year. Take a look at Wyeth's advertisement on our website and you can see how it misleads mothers.

The suggestion is parents who 'want only the best' for their children give Wyeth (SMA) Progress formula so they become 'Advanced Achievers'.

You can send a message of support to the Philippines via

If you have not done so yet, please do so. For Miguel, Gloria and all the other children and mothers in the Philippines.

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