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    Update: the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    Donovan P

    HYGIE. 1992; 11(2):5.

    WHO and UNICEF have joined to work toward reversing the trend toward infant formula use and strengthen all infants' chances of receiving the benefits of breast feeding. The WHO/UNICEF Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative encourages health workers and facilities to promote, protect, and support breast feeding instead of hampering it. This initiative followed a decision by major manufacturers and distributors of infant formulas to comply with Article 6 of the International code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes by December 1992. This action, if carried out, would stop the distribution of free and low cost supplies to maternity facilities in developing countries. Indeed WHO and UNICEF plan to persuade all such facilities worldwide to promote and protect breast feeding within their facilities as well as in the community. They have prepared guidelines to successful breast feeding for health facilities. Entire communities need to recognize the benefits of breast feeding and not expect mothers to breast feed only in the home. In 1991, 12 developing countries tested the initiative. The goals included a stop in the distribution of free and low cost supplies of infant formulas in hospitals and maternity centers and to initiate transformation of hospitals into baby-friendly hospitals by February 1992. Each of the countries had witnessed an end to free and low cost supplies of infant formula to health facilities. The governments, nongovernmental organizations, and even the infant formula industry are monitoring the situation to assure compliance. The IFM has targeted 42 other developing countries where infant formula is still distributed to enforce the Code. The infant formula industry has not yet decided to do the same in developed countries, however. Yet 2 leading manufacturers said they would not do anything to compromise the goals of the initiative.
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