ISLAMABAD After a lapse of seven long years since the promulgation of Breast-feeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002, Ministry of Health has finally notified the rules and regulations necessary for effective implementation of the said law.
Earlier due to the mounting pressure of the formula milk manufacturers, the authorities were reluctant to approve the rules and even withdrew some regulations on the pretext that the implementation of the ordinance could only be possible after declaring the child milk formula equal to drugs.
To formally launch the rules, a ceremony was held on Tuesday. Speaking on the occasion Federal Health Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin said the government was committed to providing better health care services to the masses and it was planning to spend 5 percent of the GDP on health sector.
He said the present government gave priority to health sector and evolved policies for the welfare of the people. Ministry of Health is making arduous efforts to translate the vision of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who in her book Reconciliation and Democracy has clearly spelled out the need of primary healthcare with a special focus on women and children, he said.
He expressed concerns over nutrition status of the children and termed poverty as the main cause of children poor health.
He said breastfeeding rate in Pakistan was the lowest among South Asian countries and the practice was almost diminishing mostly among mothers from educated and wealthy families.
Ministry of Health is putting in all its efforts to deal with this challenge. Government is ready to undertake all possible efforts to make breastfeeding a norm so that millions of the newborns and infants of the country can be saved he noted.
He opined that the protection of breast-feeding and child nutrition rules would have profound impact in expediting Pakistans progress towards Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Country Representative UNICEF Martin Mogwanja lauded the efforts of the government in the promotion of breastfeeding and hoped that through the proper implementation of the said rules Pakistan would be able to make steady progress towards achieving the MDGs regarding reducing child mortality by two third by the year 2015.
It is to be mentioned here that the ordinance was promulgated in the backdrop of the fast decline in breast-feeding practice in Pakistan, which was ultimately contributing to the increasing infant mortality rate, which stands at 78 per 1,000 live births. Out of these 57 are those who die before reaching one month of age due to diarrhea, pneumonia, respiratory infections and malnutrition.
A major source of these diseases due to lack of exclusive breast-feeding, use of unhygienic bottles, formula milk and teats.