Overwhelmed by the low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding for newborns, the Indonesian government is going to implement more stringent regulations on exclusive breastfeeding.
The newly issued Government Regulation No.33/2012 on exclusive breastfeeding requires both health workers and health care facilities to support mothers to breastfeed. It also imposes tougher rules against the use of infant formula for newborns unless there is an emergency situation.
The Health Ministry’s director general for nutrition and maternal and infant health, Slamet Riyadi Yuwono, said Friday that unless there was a specific medical indication or other emergency, mothers should breastfeed their babies exclusively for six months after giving birth.
“As soon as possible after delivery, health workers and health care facilities are required to help mothers initiate breastfeeding for at least one hour,” he told a press briefing at the Health Ministry on Friday.
The 2012 regulation on exclusive breastfeeding is the implementing regulation of the 2009 Law on Health, which stipulates that every child has the right to exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth.
According to data from the National Socioeconomic Survey (Susenas) 2004-2010, the percentage of exclusively breastfed babies aged 6 months stood at only 33.6 percent in 2010, down from 34.3 percent in 2009.
The low rate of early initiation of breastfeeding and the excessive promotion of infant formulas are two factors deemed responsible for the country’s low rate of exclusive breastfeeding.
“With this 2012 regulation on exclusive breastfeeding, we hope that babies can have their right to exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of their life fulfilled,” said Slamet.
Under the regulation, all health workers and health care facilities are prohibited from giving newborns infant formulas or other infant products that may prevent exclusive breastfeeding, unless there is a strong medical reason for doing so.
“Mothers have the right to refuse infant formulas offered by health workers for their babies,” said Slamet, adding that only doctors could tell whether newborns had a particular medical condition, allowing them to use infant formulas.
All forms of product advertising and promotion, such as giving free samples, discount prices, and sales bonus compensation, which can negatively impact exclusive breastfeeding, are also prohibited.
“We are still discussing a ministerial regulation (Permenkes) that would impose sanctions on either health workers or formula producers and distributors, who encourage mothers not to exclusively breastfeed their newborns,” said Riati Anggriani, the Health Ministry’s regulations directorate chief.
To promote exclusive breastfeeding, the government also requires work places and public facilities, such as offices, factories and shopping centers, to provide nursery rooms. “Employers and public facility organizers should work toward the success of exclusive breastfeeding,” said Riati, adding that the Permenkes would also impose sanctions on companies that refused to provide the necessary facilities for mothers to breastfeed their babies. (iwa)