Ministry of Health has drafted amendments to the regulations on the marketing and sale of infants and child foods in a bid to improve the health and nutrition of infants.
Uganda, currently uses the 1997 regulations on the marketing of infants and young child foods adopted from the 1981 International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes policy of the World Health Organizations.
The amendments in regulations advocate and promote breastfeeding as a way to improve the health and nutrition of infants, because despite the existence of Uganda's regulations for the last 23 years, nutritionists say the policies have never been fully implemented.
The Health Ministry officials want to revise the regulations to address the prevailing situation in the country by creating enforcement committees and introducing stricter penalties for offenders.
The regulations will address marketing practices and distribution of the products. They also advocate for the establishment of infant and young child nutrition committees and seek to provide for the duties of manufacturers and distributors.
According to Samalie Namukose the Assistant Commissioner for Nutrition in the Health Ministry, the available regulations are weak and obsolete. Adding that with the influx of breast milk substitutes, there is need for a tougher law to dissuade manufacturers and distributors from dumping their products on the Ugandan market.
The 1997 regulations advocate for breast milk as the best food for infants between zero to one year of age. The regulations call for mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months before introducing other supplements.
Persons who contravene this are liable to a monetary fine not exceeding 3,000 Shillings or two months’ imprisonment or both. In the proposed amendments, persons who do not follow the regulations might face longer imprisonment periods or even have their merchandise confiscated.