World Health Organization got Trumped over breastfeeding resolution


The Times noted the USA position aligned with infant formula manufacturers.

"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", Patti Rundall, a breastfeeding advocate who attended the assembly, told the Times.

When this failed, the Times reported that US delegates turned to threats. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs. But the US reportedly threatened the country with punitive trade measures and a cut to military aid if it did not drop the proposal.

An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response. Many of them, however, asked to remain anonymous because they fear USA retaliation. The United States and many countries around the world now abide by the International Code on Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, a health policy framework for promoting breastfeeding adopted in 1981.

What happened was tantamount to blackmail.

"The issues being debated were not about whether one supports breastfeeding", she said.

In the end, the Americans' efforts were mostly unsuccessful.

Eventually, the resolution was introduced by Russian Federation and subsequently approved.

Other media outlets picked up the story of the Trump administration versus breastfeeding mothers.

'The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children, ' an H.H.S. spokesman said.

A spokesperson for HHS told the Times, "We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons". The strong-arm tactics worked, and Ecuador dropped its support of the resolution.

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At the World Health Assembly in Geneva this spring, officials expected a major resolution encouraging breastfeeding worldwide to easily receive enough votes from government delegates to pass - until the Trump administration opposed it.

During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the World Health Organization, several negotiators said. The U.S. provides about 15 percent of WHO's budget, at $845 million.

The confrontation was the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues.

The New York Times report mirrored sweeping and unattributed claims from activist groups. It also pushed, successfully, to get statements supporting soda taxes removed from guidelines for countries dealing with skyrocketing obesity rates.

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.

Moms Rising, a group trying to achieve economic security for mothers in the U.S., called the American government's move "stunning and shameful", adding that "We must do everything we can to advocate for public policies that support and empower breastfeeding moms".

Between 21 and 26 May 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) held their 71st World Health Assembly, which is attended by delegates from all WHO member state and serves as that organization's primary decision-making body.

Trump administration officials have a history of breaking with scientific consensus on the world stage.

The United States tried to halt the resolution by pressuring Ecuador, which initially sponsored it, by dropping out. Taking a break from being an all-purpose bogeyman, Russia, we're told, saved the day and the United States was thwarted. At first, the U.S. delegates attempted to simply dilute the pro-breastmilk message, voiding language that called for governments to "protect, promote, and support breastfeeding" and limit promotion of competing baby food products that experts warn can be harmful.

The United States suggested a shorter and more streamlined resolution that encouraged promoting exclusive breastfeeding as well as global initiatives to encourage breastfeeding in hospitals.