Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters RCPCH funds from infant formula companies

Developed nations should set an example on accepting funds from infant formula companies

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6284 (Published 28 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6284
  1. Sam Ebenezer Athikarisamy, neonatal paediatrician
  1. Perth, WA
  1. ebsam75{at}yahoo.com

At medical school we were taught to stay away from infant formula companies. Despite strict regulations from the paediatric associations, the companies kept coming back to us under the pretence of conducting quizzes. In a remote hospital where I worked, the gatekeeper would not allow representatives in if he learnt that they were from a formula company. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics, the Indian Medical Association, and the Pakistan Paediatric Association do not accept funding from formula companies.1

The recent vote by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to accept funds from infant formula companies surprises me.2 The professional bodies of developed nations should set an example for developing economies. I have heard company representatives say to doctors that they were endorsed by professional bodies from overseas. Practitioners in remote areas of developing countries can be influenced and misinformed.

In an era of social media and globalisation professional bodies should have a consistent approach toward these companies, which have a global presence. The decision taken in London has the potential to influence practitioners in India and Africa. An immigrant mother asked me recently why the paediatricians in India were so against formula when it was easily accepted overseas. One of the purposes of the recently published WHO guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for children is to ensure that caregivers receive clear and accurate information.3

The key question is, why would an industry support the college’s work if it didn’t have an interest?

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