Baby food manufacturer Nestle through its’ front organization Nestle Nutrition Institute (NNI) is sponsoring and organising NNI National Nurses Quiz 2015 in India. The company organisation is approaching Paediatric and Gynaecology departments of the Medical colleges for nomination of nurses. This activity is a blatant violation of the IMS Act.
The Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply & Distribution) Act 1992, Amendment Act 2003 (IMS Act) 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. This is evident in the Section 9 of the Act, which says,
- Section 9.1. 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.
- Section 9.2. No producer, supplier or distributor referred to in sub-section (1), 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.
In a letter to the chief secretaries of all the states and UTs for effective implementation of the IMS Act vide D.O. No. 5-20/2010 –ND/Tech dated 17th August 2010, jointly written by Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Health, Government of India it has been stated very categorically that ‘baby food manufacturers through their own research/education or other front organizations are indulging in sponsorship of meeting of doctors or even acting as host of these meetings.’ The letter further asked the state governments to “take action under your directives to check and ban such sponsorships. These actions could include directives to the state government offices, medical colleges, health care institutions, and associations of doctors and nurses to abstain from such collaborations.”
Further, Ministry of Health also wrote a letter (D.O. Z- 28015/12/2010-E.I.) to all the professional organizations including Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), Trained Nurses Association of India (TNAI) and Indian Association of Neonatal Nurses (IANN) to take note of the above-mentioned letter and to take action accordingly.
Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), an organisation notified under clause (c) of Sub-Section (1) of Section 21 of the IMS Act with a gazette notification (G.S.R. 562(E))has written to Ministry of Women and Childe Development and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to initiate appropriate action to stop this activity of Nestle Nutrition Institute, which violates the IMS Act. Dr. Arun Gupta, Central Coordinator, BPNI says, such activities by Nestle Nutrition Institute are an attempt to influence opinions of health care providers like nurses and doctors on infant feeding practices. Mrs. Sheila Seda, Secretary- General TNAI says, our organisation is strongly against such image building and branding efforts by infant formula makers like Nestle to indirectly promote their products through nursing personnel. Our organisation urges Government of India to initiate strict action against the company for violating the Provisions IMS Act. Inviting nomination of nurses for the National Nurses Quiz 2015 through nursing institution is unethical and volatile of the IMS Act & appropriate action should be taken against the company so that it not only withdraws the proposed event but also does not contemplate any such event in future.