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Statement by President & Sabina Higgins following the launch of WHO/Unicef on the effects of marketing of infant formula

Date: Wed 23rd Feb, 2022 | 12:41

President Michael D. Higgins and Sabina Higgins have welcomed a seminal new report into how marketing influences decisions on infant formula, launched today by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners.

In a joint statement, President Higgins and Sabina Higgins said:

We welcome this significant and important report from the World Health Organisation and UNICEF – this report is the largest of its kind to date, with data from 8,500 women across eight countries. 

The issue of intense and manipulative marketing around the use of formula milk for babies is an issue that we have often highlighted with great concern.  Unable to demolish the science and research that shows that breast milk is best, an abuse of advertising seeks to confuse with slogans that speak of ‘follow-on’ products that are in reality contradictory to what breastfeeding principles envisage or stand for.

Each year in Aras an Uachtarain we host an event in support of National Breastfeeding Week.  WE do this to restore, respect and encourage breastfeeding, to place it at the heart of national and international policy, in our development and poverty elimination policies, and in our health strategies.  Breastfeeding is a basic component of sustainability. It makes sense – even in the economics of public health.

Our hope is that honest and factual representations on the benefits of breastfeeding will be assisted by the publication of this report and it is for this reason that it must be wholeheartedly welcomed.