We believe breast milk is the best food for infants and this is why we promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. However, there are still numerous barriers to breastfeeding. In consultation with their healthcare providers, if mothers and families decide that optimal breastfeeding is not possible, infant formula – the only suitable breast milk substitute (BMS) recognised by the WHO – plays a vital role in providing essential nutrients to infants.
We remain committed to the highest standards of responsible marketing of BMS. We comply with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes (WHO Code) as implemented by national governments everywhere in the world. The WHO Code is a set of recommendations to member states, which hold responsibility for defining the Code’s implementation at the country level.
In Central and West Africa, we apply the Nestlé Policy and Instructions for Implementation of the WHO Code when stricter than national legislations.
Since 2011, we are the only infant formula manufacturer to be included in FTSE4Good Index – the responsible investment index of the FTSE Group, a world leader in the provision of global index and analytical solutions. FTSE4Good is the only index that has developed clear criteria on the responsible marketing of breast milk substitutes (BMS). One of our key objectives is to continue strengthening our practices so we consistently meet the FTSE4Good Index criteria.
In 2015, 100% of Nestlé Nutrition employees were trained on the Nestlé Policy and Instructions. Our company also trained external partners involved in the marketing of breast milk substitutes, like merchandising agencies and distribution staff.
In Sierra Leone, breastfeeding booklets were created with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and distributed to mothers in the country by healthcare professionals. Breastfeeding leaflets were also developed with the Ministry of Health and non-governmental organisation CamLink in Cameroon.
Aligning Wyeth Nutrition marketing practices
Since acquiring the Wyeth Nutrition Infant Formula business in 2012, we have worked to ensure full alignment with the FTSE4Good Index Breast Milk Substitute criteria and our Nestlé Policy and Instructions for Implementation of the WHO Code.
In Ghana and Nigeria where Wyeth Nutrition operates, we have set up a cross-functional dedicated integration task force that is committed to ensuring compliance with our standards to market breast milk substitutes responsibly.
Providing a conducive environment for our employees who breastfeed
We also actively encourage breastfeeding by employees in our own facilities. In August 2015, we launched the ‘Nestlé CWAR Parental Policy’ for all our employees in the region.
It establishes minimum standards that must be introduced across all Nestlé sites in the region by the end of 2016. These are based on the International Labour Organization (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention and are in line with the global Nestlé Maternity Protection Policy.
Employees are given a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity leave, with a right to extend their leave for up to six months for all primary carers of newborns, including male employees and adoptive parents.
It also includes employment protection, health protection, flexible working arrangements and guaranteed access to breastfeeding rooms during work hours in all our sites with more than 50 female employees. So far, we have four breastfeeding rooms at our facilities in the region.