Advocacy, Association

Global health leaders call for end to formula company sponsorship – Correspondence to The Lancet 

11 March 2024

Global and regional healthcare professional associations, including midwives, neonatal nurses, lactation consultants, and paediatricians are advocating for an end to sponsorship by companies that manufacture commercial milk formula, citing the detrimental effects on infant and maternal health.

In the letter, published on The Lancet, we urge other professional associations to cease partnerships with breastmilk substitute companies due to their aggressive marketing tactics. This call to action aligns with previous resolutions from the World Health Assembly and guidance from the World Health Organization, emphasizing the conflict of interest created by such sponsorships.

Commercial milk formula marketing undermines breastfeeding, despite well-established health benefits, and contributes to poor health outcomes in children. The letter highlights the influence of sponsorship on research and prescribing behavior among healthcare professionals. It urges associations to discontinue sponsorships from formula companies by the end of 2024, offering support for this transition through training, advocacy, and monitoring.

This initiative, supported by the WHO, aims to protect the health and wellbeing of infants, children, and mothers by addressing the harmful effects of aggressive formula marketing. Collaboration among healthcare professional associations is deemed essential to counteract the threat posed by formula company sponsorships and uphold the standard of quality care.