Effect of national advocacy

BPNI supports and works in close liaison with national programmes of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development, (MoWCD) of Government of India and State governments. Among many of its partners, 16 organizations have played a key role in effecting change by issuing a Joint Statement in 2006, to the Prime Minister of India to focus on breastfeeding and infant survival; the Prime Minister gave us a hearing, which later resulted in getting a scheme for women to receive some wage compensation.
With tremendous pressures from various groups in India, and under the influence of global advocacy, work on the control of marketing of breastmilk substitutes progressed fairly quickly. The Parliament of India enacted the“Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods
(Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992”
(The IMS Act). The Act and its Rules came into force from 1st August 1993. As companies continued to violate the provisions of the Act, it was amended in 2003 to strengthen it and complementary foods and in fact all foods meant to be consumed for children below two years of age were included within its scope.
Since 1995, when BPNI was gazetted to be the official monitoring agency under the IMS Act; some of our efforts, including legal action against some companies, has made considerable progress in making it work, to an extend that advertising giants like ‘Lintas’, global giants like
'Johnson and Johnson', national shopping corporates like ‘Shoppers Stop’, and pharmaceutical companies like 'Wockhardt' had tendered a written apology in the Courts of Mumbai to escape a criminal trial for an alleged criminal offence. Nestle still continues to face a criminal trial in
Delhi. The giant baby food manufacturer filed a Writ Petition in the High Court to challenge the constitutional validity of the IMS Act and the complaint. Both cases are pending orders. Advocacy with the Indian Academy of Pediatrics led to a general body resolution, that IAP shall
not receive money from industry related to infant formula/infant foods. Indian Medical Association (IMA) also asked all its branches not to accept funds from infant formula industry. However, baby food companies continued to support select groups of pediatricians, community workers and even homeopaths. In fact, now they are focussing on sponsoring doctors meetings using their newly set-up front organizations. Government of India has recently sent out a guideline to implement the IMS Act in letter and spirit to all states and all professional bodies .
In 1993, creating Baby Friendly Hospitals’ which was one of the initial themes of WBW, BPNI trained a large number of health workers who,
in collaboration with UNICEF, GOI and others besides becoming involved in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and WBW activities,today strong advocates of breastfeeding in their area of influence.