In February 2023, The Lancet launched its new three-paper 2023 Lancet Series on Breastfeeding, providing an in-depth examination of how the marketing of commercial milk formulae for infants and young children undermines breastfeeding. The global launch of the Series took place on 8 February, co-hosted by The Lancet and the World Health Organization.
Two days later, the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security (CoE-FS) and DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development (CoE-HUMAN) co-hosted the local launch of the groundbreaking series, with a hybrid event featuring academics and activists all committed to protecting breastfeeding mothers, their babies, and their support systems, as well promoting breastfeeding in South Africa.
In attendance, and both a speaker and panellist at the launch was Professor Linda Richter (CoE-HUMAN/the University of the Witwatersrand), one of two South African authors on the series. The other is Dr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso.
The moderator for the day, and lead on the CoE-FS’s Infant and Young Child Feeding Advocacy Project, was Dr Chantell Witten. She also contributed to the series, co-authoring the comment, “Stemming commercial milk formula marketing: now is the time for radical transformation to build resilience for breastfeeding“, with, among others, CoE-FS grantee and UWC School of Public Health (SoPH) researcher Catherine “Katie” Pereira-Kotze.
Professor Tanya Doherty of the South African Medical Research Council and extraordinary professor at the SoPH joined Dr Witten and Pereira-Kotze, co-authoring the series’ comment. Professor Doherty also gave input at the local launch’s panel discussion. Fellow panellists were Prof Richter, Associate Professor Tracey Naledi (Deputy Dean: Health Sciences, University of Cape Town), Nicolette Heney (Assistant Director: Western Cape Department of Health) and Nzama Mbalati (Head: Healthy Living Alliance).
Also contributing to the programme of the day was Precious Robinson (Chief Technical Specialist for Prevention at Right to Care), who delivered the word of support on behalf of South Africa’s First Lady and patron of the South African Civil Society for Women’s Adolescent’s and Children’s Health coalition, Dr Tshepo Motsepe; Jacquelene Friedenthal, the Science and Technology Counselor at the Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, who shared words of support, including on behalf of the Ambassador of Switzerland to South Africa, His Excellency Dr Nicholas Brühl; Professor Joliana Phillips (Director: Research and Postgraduate Support, UWC), who delivered the welcoming address; Professor Julian May, Director of the CoE-FS, who shared the CoE-FS’s commitment to and extensive work on child nutrition and breastfeeding, among others; Justin du Toit (CoE-HUMAN Centre Manager); and Dr Katharina Lichtner, Managing Director at the Family Larsson Rosenquist Foundation (FLRF), which funds the CoE-FS-based IYCF Advocacy project.