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10 July 2018, 04:15 | Devin Moran
US tries to bully WHO into dropping breast-feeding resolution
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.
President Trump rejected accusations on Monday from a New York Times report that said the US worked against a breastfeeding amendment at the World Health Assembly.
"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out".
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. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty". "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".
American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.
The American delegation was fighting to include the interests of formula manufacturers, even going so far as to threaten normal trade with countries like Ecuador. The Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in the effort to modify the resolution, explained the decision to contest the resolution's wording but said HHS was not involved in threatening Ecuador. "Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies", Caitlin Oakley said in a statement to The Hill. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
The State Department declined to comment to the Times, saying it could not remark on private diplomatic discussions.
These days, the United States is on the outside looking in when it comes to global consensus on many things: Climate change, the Iran deal, and breastfeeding. Many of them, however, asked to remain anonymous because they fear US retaliation. Russian Federation ultimately sponsored the resolution and the American delegation did not issue any threats to the country.
The intensity of USA opposition to the measure shocked public health officials and diplomats, marked a stark contrast from the Obama administration's support of the World Health Organization (WHO)'s position on breast-feeding.
Companies that sell baby formula generate $70billion annually, but those sales have been stagnant due to the increased popularity of breastfeeding.
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