Saudi Arabia fines pharma for breaking Breast Milk Code

On World Breastfeeding Week, Saudi Arabia has fined a pharma company for violating its Breast Milk Substitutes Code, by distributing brochures in hospitals

At the end of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1st - 7th) Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry has fined an unnamed pharmaceutical company US$67,000 for breaking its Breast Milk Substitutes (BMS) code.

Minister Fahd al-Jalajel found that the company in question was breaking the law, by sending representatives into hospitals and handing out brochures for infant milk formula.


Saudi Arabia to protect breastfeeding

Breast milk is 87% water and full of essential nutrients including proteins, vitamins, minerals and antibodies. Breast milk hydrates babies, regulates body temperature and strengthens organs and joints. 

While infant milk formula is legal in Saudi Arabia, breastfeeding is healthier and strongly encouraged for new mothers. 

In Saudi Arabia, healthcare institutions are prohibited from advertising breastfeeding substitutes, by the Law of Trading in Breastfeeding Substitutes. However, Article 5 states that distributors may present scientific brochures on infant food - after they are approved by the Ministry, to maternity and child care professionals only. 

Article 12 continues: ‘Healthcare institutions shall take the appropriate measures to encourage and protect breastfeeding by providing relevant advice, information and training of healthcare workers.’

Minister Fahd al-Jalajel found that company representatives had entered hospitals and distributed brochures about breast milk substitutes, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Supporting Ukrainian mothers and babies

Elsewhere in the world, UNICEF is funding a milk bank in Poland for Ukrainian mothers who have fled there. These mothers can receive milk if they are unable to express their own, as well as psychological support and lactation advice.

“These are women who have difficulties in the initial stage of motherhood,” said Aleksandra Wesolowska, Head of the Human Milk Bank Foundation. “They are under a lot of stress, some of them have suffered war trauma. Therefore they really need lactation care and psychological support. This element of support is the most important. Milk from the bank is food, of course, but it is also the expression of female solidarity.”

“The number of children on the move is staggering, an indication of how desperate the situation for children and families in Ukraine has become,” said Afshan Khan, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

Click here to read our Top 10 healthcare moves and training initiatives in Ukraine. 



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