Thursday, 7 June 2012

Greece: Unfavourable Environment Leads to Extremely Low Breastfeeding Rates


Greece reported for the second time at the Committee on the Rights of the Child, on the 6th of June 2012. 
IBFAN had submitted an extensive alternative report on the situation of infant and young child feeding in Greece. The report highlighted the many violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes (the Code) in Greece, and expressed concern over the lack of education on breastfeeding and support for mothers who wish to breastfeed.
The Committee asked many questions on health, and in particular on the situation of breastfeeding in Greece. Due to the current economic situation in Greece, many of the questions were related to financial issues, such as how the healthcare system will be affected by the new budget. 
The Committee reminded the delegation that breastfeeding is the most cost effective method of taking care of children and expressed concern with the fact that less than 10% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months, and only 7% continue breastfeeding up to one year. There is a lack of support in Greece for mothers who wish to breastfeed, as 89% of women expressed the intention to breastfeed prior to delivery. This can be attributed to the high rate of C-sections and the high number of free samples of formula given to mothers in hospitals. The Committee reminded Greece that it should work on methods to support mothers who wish to breastfeed and that no free samples of infant formula should be distributed in health facilities in accordance with the Code.
The IBFAN report acknowledges that there are currently no baby-friendly facilities in Greece, however two state hospitals have started the certification process and another two are due to start it. The Committee asked the delegation whether the hospitals would actually finish the certification process in order to be certified as baby-friendly institutions.

The unsatisfactory response by the Greek delegation was that the formal practice of healthcare professionals is to advocate for breastfeeding to mothers and to avoid commercial campaigns with products that are breastmilk substitutes and that the government is unaware of informal practices in hospitals. 



 2 photographs of gift-packs received by post partum women clearly showing a bottle with a rubber teat.Source: IBFAN Alternative Report.
Free gifts of breastmilk substitutes, including bottles and teats are prohibited from the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.