Did The U.S. Threaten Ecuador Over A Breastfeeding Resolution?
- Author: Santos West Jul 12, 2018,
Jul 12, 2018, 20:06
However, the US was successful in removing language that said the World Health Organization would support countries trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children". The effort failed, but the US delegation was accused of favoring the interests of formula companies over the health of children when it objected to that seemingly mild language as well as restrictions on marketing breast-milk substitutes to mothers. When breastfeeding mothers feed their babies exclusively with formula, they quickly stop producing breast milk, making it impossible to revert back.
While Ecuador had plans to introduce the initiative, the country later chose to drop it after the USA reportedly issued threats of economic retaliation.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, in an email to the Times, defended the administration's stance.
As part of global nutrition targets, countries who are part of the World Health Organization have vowed to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life to at least 50 percent of mothers by 2025.
A 2016 study by The Lancet, one of the world's most prestigious medical journals, found breastfeeding could prevent 80,000 child deaths a year globally. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty".
Despite breastfeeding's proven advantages for infants, Trump administration sided with infant formula manufacturers, threatening oppositions with sanctions.
The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.
And it is time to add another, however unlikely, issue to the growing list of things United States opposes the world for: breastfeeding.
The Ecuadorian delegation, for instance, was expected to introduce the resolution but was weaned off the idea after the United States threatened to impose harmful trade measures and withdraw military assistance-which the U.S. is providing in the northern part of the country to help address violence spilling over the border from Colombia. Patti Rundall is the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, and she joins me on the line. Millions of infants have safely consumed formula for decades. "Many parents and infant caregivers feed their infants formula without any understanding of how risky it can be for their infant or what practices need to be in place to make it safer". However, American delegates took the side of corporate formula makers over breastfeeding mothers. Nevertheless, formula is still an estimated $47 billion global industry, according to Euromonitor, and has been growing steadily.
Shonn Brown, a Dallas attorney who has worked in employment law, says most employers already have policies on breastfeeding.
World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes. The US has denied allegations it threatened any country during negotiations.
At the same World Health Assembly meeting, according to the Times, U.S. officials also removed suggestions of introducing a soda tax from a document advising countries on fighting high rates of obesity.