Tuesday, August 2, 2005

PAGASA Position Paper on EO No. 51 on Breastmilk Substitutes,Breastmilk Supplements and Related Prod

The following article is PAGASA's position on Executive Order 51 (Breastmilk Supplements and Related Products). 1. Given today's busy lifestyle for urbanites, working mothers must given a choice on how to feed her infant when she cannot, because of work schedules or career requirements (i.e., assigned to a post out-of-town or out of the country), breastfeed her child. These modern-day heroes shuffling as mothers and professionals should be provided access to breastmilk substitutes to assure that the delicate balance of providing the needed nourishment to their child and getting their work done is achieved. One may say that these young mothers will have to make a choice to stay at home as mothers or stay childless to advance their careers. This seems to sound fine but will surely not hold water for today's young (especially urbanite) female adults who want to shuffle between work and motherhood. This sounds like work/sexual discrimination at the workplace. After all, we need all the output these productive young women can contribute to our economy.
To address this predicament and increase the collective productive output of these young female adults who want to balance life as mothers and career women, we must make breastmilk substitutes available to them at prices they can afford.
2. It may be advisable for these careered young mothers to attain a 6-month permit from their O.B.Gyne/Pediatrician which states that within that period of time, she is allowed to purchase breastmilk substitutes for the sustainance of her infant. This way, she need not line up at a pediatrician's office each time she needs to buy breastmilk substitutes and pay for the said prescription. The latter not only takes precious time off her limited conscious hours in a day but saves her some money in having to pay for the needed prescription from the pediatrician.
3. In order to make breastmilk substitutes affordable to careered lactating mothers (as some of them are wage earners), these must be relatively well-distributed. To achieve economies of scale for both the manufacturers and distributors, it would be wise to allow for a wider range of channels of distribution and include supermarkets as outlets for these products. This not only makes the product more affordable to the young mother, it also makes it more accessible to her. Supermarkets must of course, ask for the permit (which lasts for 6 months) before allowing the purchase of infant (0-6 months old) milk. For mothers with children 6-months to 2-years old, we suggest they get another permit from their pediatrician (stating that they are working with so-and-so company and have children who were born so-and-so dates thereby needing from time to time to buy milk until the child/children are 2 years of age) which expires every 6 months for the same purpose and for the same line of reasoning. As such, working mothers who are contractual in nature will have to continuously breastfeed their child/children while employed to assure that they are still producing milk for them when she no longer works (as these mothers will not be given a 6-month permit by their pediatricians now that they are non-working mothers).
4. Regarding the safeguarding of breastmilk substitutes from false advertising and fraudulent misrepresentation, we suggest that we need not totally ban all advertisements for these products as that will also affect an industry (that of advertising and its allied industries) and our fragile economy as a whole. What we need is vigilant and consistent screening of ads before they are released to the public. Here, hefty sanctions for violations should be added to the Bill to protect the public from constant "brain-washing" and "mis-orientation" from unscrupulous manufacturers / marketing people / advertisers / p.r. practitioners who offer their breastmilk substitutes as infant formula promoting/enhancing giftedness or intellectual superiority.
STEVEN T. CUA President PAGASA Phil. Amalgamated Supermarkets Assn