World Health Organization got Trumped over breastfeeding resolution

Henrietta Brewer
July 12, 2018

The U.S. then continued around the table, targeting at least a dozen, mostly underdeveloped countries in Latin America and Africa, who backed off fearing retaliation, according to delegates from Mexico, Uruguay and the U.S.

In addition to the trade threats, an Ecuadorean government official told the Times the USA threatened to withdrawal military support from northern Ecuador, where violence from boarding Colombia causes ongoing issues.

Details of the standoff were revealed in a New York Times report that said the US forced Ecuador, the resolution's sponsor, to drop the proposal.

But, at a gathering in Geneva this spring, the US made a forceful case to defend the interests of manufacturers of breast milk substitutes.


Oakley said, "The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding". Just one portion, calling on the World Health Organization to provide support to member states seeking to halt "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", was removed. Mothers should be encouraged and supported to breastfeed; however - if breast milk is not available or not chosen - parents should have access to information from trusted sources. They also imply in their advertising that breastfeeding is what poor women do who don't know better. "The U.S. strongly supports breastfeeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula", Trump posted on Twitter Monday afternoon. Breastfed babies usually get sick less often, because breast milk contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. Breastfeeding is critical for mothers here and in developing countries, where formula mixed with unclean water supplies can be risky for babies.

A spokesperson for HHS told the Times, "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons".

Then, when those attempts failed, the US delegation reportedly intimidated the country, Ecuador, initially sponsoring the resolution with trade threats, resulting in Ecuador dropping out.

For a recent paper, University of California, Berkeley, economist and public-health expert Paul Gertler. and a team of colleagues looked at infant mortality rates in low- and middle-income countries, comparing regions that had access to infant formula to regions that didn't.


The United States tried to halt the resolution by pressuring Ecuador, which initially sponsored it, by dropping out.

For their part, the United States delegates have said that it wasn't corporations' best interests they had in mind, but that they were instead trying to fight against "stigmatizing" women who choose to formula feed. "Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington's strong-arm tactics", The Times reports.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defended the USA delegation's approach.

The resolution was passed when it was introduced by Russian Federation, but the United States did successfully strike out language calling for World Health Organization support to nations trying to prevent "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and added the phrase "evidence based" to certain provisions.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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