There was an unexpected battle over a resolution supporting the use of breast milk at the World Health Organization in may. The New York Times reported that the resolution to encourage breastfeeding was expected to be approved quickly by hundreds of government delegates but the United States delegates opposed the language.
The World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations is an agency headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that is concerned with international public health. A proposed resolution asked countries to restrict the misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. In multiple studies spanning decades of research, breastmilk has been proven beyond a doubt to be the healthiest option for children. The New York Times reported that the resolution was expected to pass easily but U.S. delegates took issue with the language that encouraged countries to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding.” The U.S. did not want to impede the sale of baby formulas.
The U.S. Delegates reportedly told Ecuador, who planned to introduce the resolution, that if the proposal wasn’t dropped that the U.S. would implement trade measures and withdraw military support from northern Ecuador (violence from boarding Colombia causes ongoing issues here). The Ecuadorian delegates caved and then health advocates found another sponsor for the resolution. The Russian delegation introduced the measure, and unlike with Ecuadorian, Russia received no resistance from the U.S.
The Trump administration’s aggressive attempts to water down an international resolution supporting breast-feeding go against decades of advice by most medical organizations and public health experts.” – NY Times
Global health experts believe that the president’s stance on baby formula was due to a lack of knowledge regarding breastfeeding and the history of how baby formulas are marketed in developing countries. In these poor countries when powdered formula is mixed with unclean, unsafe water, it can lead to death.
What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health,” Patti Rundall, policy director of Baby Milk Action
Despite the United States’ best efforts, the final resolution retained most of the original language, but the portion calling on WHO to provide support to countries seeking to halt “inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children,” was removed.
A 2016 study published by The Lancet stated that breastfeeding could save 843,000 lives and $300 billion in reduced health care costs a year. The New York Times reported that the baby food market is a $70 billion industry.
This kind of support for corporations over health isn’t new. We could thank Trump’s administration for being so blatantly corrupt and unsubtle that the issues like this are brought out into the open. We could, but we won’t.
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