Controversy flares over USA challenge to World Health Organization breastfeeding resolution

Controversy flares over USA challenge to World Health Organization breastfeeding resolution

Controversy flares over USA challenge to World Health Organization breastfeeding resolution

In a booklet published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008, and still available online, government officials listed multiple benefits for employers that support breastfeeding mothers and their partners.

Eventually, Russia introduced the resolution, and the United States was unable to blunt the measure, although its delegation successfully struck language calling for the global health body to provide technical support for nations seeking to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and added the phrase "evidence based" to certain provisions, the Times reported. "I'm really pleased that Russian Federation did take it forward on a very good basis to actually make sure that breastfeeding would be protected", she said, but noted that the USA then put their own alternative resolution forward "with nothing in it".

Nevertheless, Michelle Pensa Branco of the charity Safely Fed Canada called on the federal government to step up breastfeeding support in light of the controversy.

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The United States pressured other countries to stop a resolution that promoted breastfeeding at the United Nations, according to the New York Times.

The American move was apparently an attempt to protect the interests of infant formula manufacturers. One section called on governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding", which they wanted taking out. Critics of the breast milk substitute industry contend that those companies use aggressive and potentially illegal marketing tactics that encourage mothers to abandon breastfeeding in favor of commercial products. But Russia rescued the resolution by stepping in and introducing it.

"Reducing the debate about the World Health Assembly resolution to "breastfeeding vs. formula feeding" is misleading as both the draft and final Resolutions were supportive of breastfeeding", said Mardi Mountford, President of The Infant Nutrition Council of America. Four decades of research have shown that breast milk is more beneficial for infants that formula. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty". "What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the United States holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health".

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We're told the USA threatened Ecuador with punishing trade measures and the removal of military aid. "It was supposed to go to the floor, and then Ecuador pulled it and it was very confusing", said Zehner, adding that other countries were approached about putting it forward but refused, apparently because they were scared. If all children under six months were exclusively breastfed, World Health Organization said it thinks "about 820,000 child lives would be saved every year".

"The Trump Administration believes it's a public health priority that women and their families have all the information to decide how to appropriately deliver nutrition to their children, whether it is via breastfeeding or other methods", an HHS spokesman said.

'These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so'.

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