Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Trump Administration Opposed Global Pro-Breastfeeding Resolution (Until Russia Sponsored It)

Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg via Getty Images
Anna Jefferson | 12 July, 2018, 13:17

The Trump administration has forced the South American country to back down over its support for breastfeeding at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in May, The New York Times reports.

USA officials fought to remove phrases calling for governments to "protect, promote and support breastfeeding" and a section calling on lawmakers to tighten regulations on the promotion of products that experts say have harmful effects on children.

"The New York Times reported that the U.S. attempted to "water down" the wording of the resolution, focusing on two passages, the article said: "one requiring that countries "'protect, promote and support breast-feeding, '" and another that would place restrictions on companies selling baby formula that is, according to health officials, harmful.

The New York Times reports US delegates even threatened the Ecuadorean government with punishing trade measures, convincing them to drop the resolution.

Health advocates sought to find another sponsor for the resolution, the Times reported, and Russian Federation eventually introduced the measure without threats from the U.S.

Additionally, a study in The Lancet found that universal breastfeeding could prevent 800,000 child deaths per year.

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

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated during the first week in August every year in more than 170 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

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At the conference, Ecuador sponsored a proposal that recognized mother's milk as the healthiest option for nursing newborns.

Meanwhile, reactions have been rolling in on Twitter since The New York Times report was released on Sunday, mostly criticizing the Trump administration for selling out to corporate interest. They are growing desperate, because in wealthier countries, especially in the United States, more mothers, for various reasons, are choosing to breastfeed and buying less formula. In defense of formula and its makers, the USA also reportedly threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions in retaliation for advancing the resolution. But a sustainable future will require certain industries - not just tobacco and fossil fuels, air travel and automobiles, even baby formula - to become much much smaller to sustain a population of nine billion human beings.

The recommendations are based on an established body of evidence showing breastmilk is nutritionally, economically and ecologically superior to formula or other breastmilk substitutes.

"The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding", HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement. Many of them, however, asked to remain anonymous because they fear US retaliation.

They also sought to hinder World Health Organization efforts to provide lifesaving medications to undeveloped countries.

Although formula feeding is a great option for mothers who can't breastfeed, current medical literature strongly supports breastfeeding for mothers and babies.

The U.S. stance on the health issue was enough to draw heated reaction from a number of progressive-leaning websites.

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