U.S. tries to bully World Health Organization into dropping breast-feeding resolution


Canadian breastfeeding advocates say they're stunned by an especially aggressive USA attempt to water down breastfeeding protections at a spring United Nations meeting.

According to the report, the delegation fought against elements in the resolution that would have demanded member states "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" and restrict potentially unsafe infant foods.

A State Department official said the USA believed "the resolution as originally drafted called on states to erect hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children". Ecuador backed down, and at least a dozen countries avoided the resolution out of fear of retaliation by the United States.

American officials allegedly sought to remove the language pushing for global government support of breastfeeding practices and attacked countries that were in favour of it.

The move reflected the United States government's championing of the $US70 billion ($94 billion) baby formula industry - mainly based in the U.S. and Europe. These decisions are made more fraught by hypertargeted digital marketing about nursing and all the other hot debates-whether to vaccinate a child or not, to medicate them for ADHD and the many other questions for which there is no one answer. "[The resolution was just] embracing the science that breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for a baby".

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But more than a dozen participants from several countries-most requesting anonymity out of fear of United States retaliation-told the Times that the American officials surprised health experts and fellow delegates alike by fiercely opposing the resolution.

A mother bottle feeds her baby.

Trump wrote, "The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty".

Decades of research has shown that mother's milk is healthiest for children, a familiar theme underscored in a recent World Health Organization resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

"We were talking to all the other countries and could see that they were backing off and very frightened that they would be sort-of got at by the U.S. government if they went forward", she said, noting that a lot of countries -particularly poorer ones- take money from the USA in some form of aid so it is "a big deal for them to actually lose that money".

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In 1981-the height of a massive controversy over Nestlé's aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries-the "availability of formula" resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.

The State Department declined the Times' request to comment and said it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations.

A State Department official said, "Reports suggesting the United States threatened a partner nation related to a World Health Assembly resolution are false". "They should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies".

A 2016 statement passed uncontroversially at WHO's 69th assembly affirmed the organization's position that "the lives of more 820,000 children could be saved every year if all mothers followed [the WHO's] advice to start breastfeeding within an hour of birth, give only breast milk for the first six months, and continue breastfeeding until their children reach the age of two alongside appropriate complementary foods".

"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", the spokesperson said.

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