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Nestle trying to influence nurses in India, alleges BPNI

Apr 14, 2015

Nestle is trying to act clever and influencing nurses through a national quiz, said Dr Arun Gupta, Coordinator of Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India.

New Delhi: Leading baby food manufacturer, Nestle, through its wing called Nestle Nutrition Institute (NNI) has violated the Infant Milk Substitutes (IMS) Act by sponsoring and organising NNI National Nurses Quiz-2015 in India, alleged the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI).

According to BPNI, Nestle has vociferously breached this enactment by being the spine and the toe of NNI National Nurses Quiz-2015 in India.

“To materialise the quiz at the ground level, the company has been establishing contacts with speciality departments such as paediatrics and gynaecology departments of the medical colleges in order to receive nominations for the nurses,” BPNI said.

The Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) on its part has also written a letter to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) of Aligarh for expressing its discontentment and urged them to withdraw their nurses from the quiz and also not organise such activities in future.

Sheila Seda, Secretary General, TNAI, in the letter to JNMC, contended, “TNAI would post strong objection against any activity organized by an organisation which promotes the infant milk substitute and infant foods. We firmly voice for the breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and not any formula feeding. If such a quiz is conducted by NNI, there are chances that the organisation shall make room for the promotion of their products through health professionals, who actually are supposed to be against such products.”

Dr Arun Gupta, Central Coordinator of Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India, concurs, “Such activities by Nestle Nutrition Institute are an attempt to influence opinions of healthcare providers like nurses and doctors on infant feeding practices. This is nothing less than a direct attack on the IMS Act and undermines what governments have done so far. Nestle is trying to act clever and influencing nurses now.”

Earlier, in 2010, the Ministry of Women and Child Development along with the Health Ministry had written a letter to all the states and UTs for effective implementation of the IMS Act. The Ministry of Health further followed it up by writing a letter to the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), the Indian Association of Neonatal Nurses (IANN) and TRAI to take note of the above-mentioned letter and to take action accordingly.

The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply & Distribution) Act-1992, Amendment Act- 2003 clearly prohibits any sponsorship of health workers or their associations or health systems by the manufacturers of the products under the scope of the law directly or indirectly.

Section 9 of the Act says that no person who produces, supplies, distributes or sells infant milk substitutes or feeding bottles or infant foods shall offer or give, directly or indirectly, any financial inducements or gifts to a health worker or to any member of his family for the purpose of promoting the use of such substitutes or bottles or foods.

The Act further clarifies that no producer, supplier or distributor shall offer or give any contribution or pecuniary benefit to a health worker or any association of health workers, including funding of seminar, meeting, conferences, educational course, contest, fellowship, research work or sponsorship.

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