BANGKOK – Thailand’s Department of Health has set a goal to increase breastfeeding during the first six months of newborns’ lives to 50% by 2025, from the current 23%, to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2018 from Aug 1-7.
“To achieve this goal, there is more to be done other than just banning advertisements and marketing for formulae intended for infants aged three and under,” said department director-general Dr Wachira Pengjuntr.
Dr Wachira did not go into details about how the department will do more to achieve this.
Kittipong Laonnipon, deputy director-general of the Department of Labour Protection and Welfare, said the department and seven partners have initiated a project to support breastfeeding in the workplace by encouraging employers to provide a breastfeeding corner for mothers.
As of last month, 1,745 companies have such an arrangement already in place and a total of 11,159 working mothers have benefited from this service, he said.
The Finance Ministry is considering granting tax privileges to employers to attract more to join the campaign, he said.
One of the existing criteria for granting employers tax reductions is the provision of a safe and healthy working environment, which will likely be redefined to cover breastfeeding, he said.
As for calls for an extension of maternal leave from three to six months, that is highly unlikely, he said, adding that an extra period of eight days has already been added to the standard 90-day maternal leave on offer.
The Sept 8, 2017, act controlling promotion activities targeting infants and young babies, which bans the advertising and marketing of formulae and food products for infants up to three years old, is due to come into full effect on Sept 1 this year after companies producing or selling the concerned products were given one year to change their labelling, Dr Wachira said.
“In the best interests of both the baby and its mother, breastfeeding is recommended solely for the first six months of life and then together with food until two years old,” he said.