Parliament Thursday evening passed a Bill that seeks to encourage breastfeeding by mothers as it rejected plans by some members to water it down in favour of manufacturers of substitutes.
There was a light moment when Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny said majority of women were abandoning breastfeeding for fear of losing the shapes of their breasts.
Nine amendments to the Breast Milk Substitutes (Regulation and Control) Bill 2012 were all shot down but only one sailed through.
While opposing the amendments, Cabinet ministers and MPs said their decisions were aimed at protecting consumers.
Cabinet minister Beth Mugo (Public Health and Sanitation), NjeruGithae (Finance), Amos Kimunya (Transport) and Moses Wetangula (Trade) said the amendments would negate the spirit of the Bill, which is to encourage breastfeeding of babies.
“We should be careful with what we are bringing into law. We must ensure we can be in a position to enforce what we introduce,” said Kimunya.
The Bill seeks to provide for appropriate marketing and distribution of breast milk substitutes, safe and adequate nutrition for infants, through the promotion of breast feeding and proper use of breast milk substitutes.
According to Bill, breast milk substitute means “food that is marketed, or otherwise represented, as a partial or total replacement of breast milk, whether suitable for that purpose or not.”
The amendments to the Bill were brought by the chairman of Departmental Committee on Health Robert Monda and Belgut MP Charles Keter and his Chereng’any counterpart Joshua Kutuny. Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo also had amendments.
Keter and Monda wanted Clause 8 of the Bill amended to allow a health worker receive inducements, gifts, financials assistance, scholarships, samples of complementary food product from a manufacturer or a distributor. Mugo opposed the amendment arguing that it would create a conflict of interest between the manufacturer and the health worker.
“Impartiality will not be there on the health workers when they receive goodies from manufacturers,” she added. The Bill further calls for the establishment of a National Committee on Infant and Young Child Feeding.
The Cabinet Secretary will establish a committee consist ing of Director of Public Health, Director of Nutrition and Dietetic Services and director or representative of Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Medical Research Institute,Registrar of the Nursing Council of Kenya and Kenya Paediatric Association.
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