MANILA - Donating formula milk to evacuees in need is prohibited by law.
The Philippine Milk Code of 1986 (Executive Order 51) regulates the marketing of infant milk formula and other milk products, as well as feeding bottles and teats.
It also covers all products marketed either as "complete or partial substitute" to breastmilk, regardless of the age of the child.
According to the law, donations of formula milk in times of disasters and calamities is strictly prohibited, as "indiscriminate distribution of these products put infants at greater risk of illness and death," due to lack of potable water, and other factors that arise in times of crises.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, the provincial government of Batangas appealed for breastmilk donations for babies in the evacuation centers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages mothers to exclusively breastfeed their infants for at least 6 months.
That means nothing but breast milk (no water, liquids, infant formula or food) for the entire 6 months from the baby's birth.
At 6 months, the babies are then ready for complementary food while continuing to be breastfed up to 2 years.
According to the Department of Health, breastfeeding has many health benefits, among them lower risk of diarrhea, pneumonia, and chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes throughout their lifetimes.