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ILCA’s Independent International Code Expert Panel: A Model for Professional Associations

ILCALogo_full_text (2)ILCA demonstrates its bedrock support for the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions (the International Code, or Code) with by-laws and governance policies that prohibit our professional association from accepting funds from companies that are not meeting their obligations under the Code. ILCA does accept advertising from those meeting their obligations under the Code: Exhibit Hall booths and tote bag flyers at our conference, and ads in our esteemed Journal of Human Lactation. These funds offset the costs of providing member services, which keeps annual dues at a reasonable level.

ILCA is an international role model: Organizations can operate with fiscal responsibility while also supporting the International Code’s mandates against predatory marketing of infant-feeding alternatives.

Due to its complexity and legitimate susceptibility to varying interpretations, the International Code is often difficult even for recognized experts to uniformly discern. Thus, the ILCA Board voted in November 2013 to establish an independent panel of experts, trained under auspices of the International Code Documentation Centre and recognized for their expertise in International Code interpretation and application.

The panel includes ILCA members (familiar with the programs and services of our organization), and those with no official ILCA relationship (to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest).

The Panel members are:

Linda Smith, Chair, MPH, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA – Dayton, Ohio, USA

Carol Bartle, RN, RM, PGDip, ChAd, MHealSc, IBCLC, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

Jen Peddlesden, BScPharm, IBCLC – Chestermere, Alberta, Canada

Elisabeth Sterken, London, Ontario, Canada

Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC, RLC – Weston, Massachusetts, USA

Audrey Naylor (Alternate), MD, DrPH, – Shelburne, Vermont, USA

The panel is authorized to make binding interpretations about potential advertisers/advertisements, for purposes of ILCA advertising and management, for the time- and event-specific purposes of the organization (primarily conference exhibit hall booths and tote bag flyers, and JHL ads).

This model doesn’t require the International Code to be legislated in any particular country . . . but it is akin to self-imposed “law” for ILCA operations. Under this model, trained experts can review precedent and WHO documents, debate the facts . . . and make a decision (with citable rationale) whether an advertiser meets ILCA’s stringent advertising policy on Code compliance. And this model provides an opportunity for marketers to learn how they can adjust their advertising, support the Code . . . and meet ILCA’s requirements.

ILCA urges other professional associations of healthcare providers to adopt this model: it eases association operations, expands understanding of the Code, reduces conflicts of interest in decision-making, and allows marketers with a true goal of supporting the Code to receive guidance toward that end.

liz-brooks-1Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA

ILCA President (2012-14)

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