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Announcing the WHO/UNICEF e-learning Course on the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes

Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD)


In spite of clear messages on the importance and advantages of breastfeeding, promotion and sales of breast-milk substitutes, such as infant formula, follow-up formula and other products intended to partially or fully replace breast-milk, continues unabated.

Global sales of breast-milk substitutes currently total US$ 44.8 billion, and are expected to rise to US$ 70.6 billion by 2019. 

Inappropriate marketing of food products that compete with breastfeeding is an important factor that often negatively affects the choice of a mother to breastfeed her infant optimally.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the WHO Guidance on Ending Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children are important tools in countries’ efforts to create an enabling and protective environment that allows mothers to make the best possible feeding choice, based on impartial information and free of commercial influences.

Translating the Code into effective national legal, regulatory and other suitable measures, and ensuring their proper implementation, requires a good understanding among legislators, policy makers, health practitioners, UN staff and civil society partners, of the Code’s intent, content and requirements.

For this purpose, WHO and UNICEF have developed an introductory e-course on the Code, which is freely accessible to all who work on maternal, newborn and child health, and on infant and young child nutrition.

The training course was developed to strengthen understanding on:
• The importance of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding for the health, development and survival of children;
• International recommendations for optimal feeding of infants and young children;
• What is the International Code and the role it plays in the achievement of optimal feeding of infants and young children including breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding;
• The content of the International Code and other WHA resolutions that relate to the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.
• Implementation of the International Code at the national level and its place among international human rights and other legal instruments.
• How compliance with the International Code and national implementation measures can be monitored and enforced.

The e-course can currently be accessed on UNICEF’s Agora website, and will shortly also be available via the WHO Nutrition e-learning hub at UNITAR.


© WHO 2017

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