February 6, 2023

A breastfeeding advocate based in Baguio has asked the city council to recall its resolution asking the City Social Welfare and Development Office to include milk in relief packs given to lactating women, especially during the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) crisis.

Adding milk as supplement to lactating women is not necessary and impractical, said Di Anne Mendoza, general manager of the Breastfeeding Care Center of the North in a position paper.

She said the city government should sustain the legacy of the late Dr. Natividad Clavano, former head of the Pediatrics Department of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, a recognized figure in infant nutrition and whose researches were used as basis in the crafting of the Milk Code of the Philippines and the Rooming-in and Breastfeeding Act of 1992.

Instead of milk, Mendoza has suggested for the CSWDO, the Department of Health, and the National Nutrition Council to distribute breastfeeding care packs that include food that are high in calcium.

The city council earlier passed Resolution 255 s. 2020 requesting the CSWDO to consider distributing “milk formula” to lactating mothers and mothers with toddlers to help increase milk production.

Mendoza said it is a myth to say that drinking milk will increase a mother’s production of milk.

“To ensure adequate milk production and flow for six months of exclusive breastfeeding, a baby needs to feed as often and for as long as he or she wants, both day and night. This is called demand feeding, unrestricted feeding, or baby-led feeding,” Mendoza said.

She added hat giving milk as relief item is costly. A milk pack, estimated to cost P500 per box, will feed just the mother, while a relief pack which costs the same but with products such as eggs or vegetables will feed more people.

Mendoza said the CSWDO should also be spared from possible conflict of interest from companies selling breastmilk substitutes.

She said commercial exploitation of the Covid-19 through unnecessary use of specialized foods and supplements should be avoided, thus her group’s recommendation for the city council to recall Resolution 255.

As of Monday, Resolution 255 has been taken down from the official social media pages of the city council.

NNC Regional Coordinator Rita Papey for her part said that the City Health Services Office, NNC, and DOH agree with Mendoza’s view. They said there are many calcium-rich foods that can be included in the relief packs, instead of milk. However, she said there is no violation of the Milk Code as implied in Mendoza’s position paper.

Papey said the term “milk formula” only has to be changed in the resolution. She said “milk formula” led advocates of breastfeeding to conclude that the resolution is supporting use of breastmilk substitutes. – Rimaliza A. Opiña