Bangkok, Thailand, April 2017 – Just four days before a critical vote in the Thai parliament, The Thai Breastfeeding Center Foundation and Alive & Thrive convened influential advocates, doctors, nutritionists, and government staff to discuss the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and gain momentum for continued policy advocacy in Thailand. On April 4th, the Thai parliament was scheduled to vote on the “Control of Marketing of Infant and Young Child Food Act,” designed to stop inappropriate and unethical marketing of breastmilk substitutes (i.e. infant formula).
During the workshop, Alive & Thrive highlighted the health and socio-economic benefits of breastfeeding globally and for Thailand, and encouraged participants to share these messages with influential policymakers. A joint op-ed in the Thai newspaper, authored by Alive & Thrive, UNICEF, and the Thai Breastfeeding Center Foundation, was placed on the day of the vote to highlight the critical importance of passing the legislation.
On April 4th, breastfeeding and health advocates applauded Thai policymakers as they approved the legislation in a nearly unanimous vote. Under the revised legislation, the government of Thailand prohibits all marketing of breastmilk substitutes for children under 12 months of age; further regulations apply to marketing of similar products to children under 3. In addition to the protection that this Act provides to infants and young children in Thailand, ideally it will inspire similar legislation in Southeast Asia and beyond.
What is the cost of not breastfeeding in Thailand?
During the workshop, Alive & Thrive highlighted the benefits of breastfeeding with participants. Findings from research conducted by A&T and UNICEF in 2015 found that the national costs of not breastfeeding in Thailand are significant: higher breastfeeding rates could generate up to $192,600,000 USD every year through improved cognitive development and productivity. Immediate savings to families who wouldn’t need to purchase infant formula are also significant: families could save up to 25.2% of their average monthly earnings by breastfeeding.
Learn more about our Cost of Not Breastfeeding in Thailand study.
Advocacy workshop participants. Credit: Alive & Thrive.