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U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials

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A resolution to encourage breast-feeding (by limiting the marketing of breast milk substitutes) which was expected to be approved by the government delegates who gathered this spring for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly, was upended by the United States delegation.

Article highlights:

‘“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly’

‘The intensity of the administration’s opposition to the breast-feeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported W.H.O.’s longstanding policy of encouraging breast-feeding.’

‘When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.’

‘The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.’

‘But the United States insisted that the words “evidence-based” accompany references to long-established initiatives that promote breast-feeding, which critics described as a ploy that could be used to undermine programs that provide parents with feeding advice and support.’

‘Scientists are loath to carry out double-blind studies that would provide one group with breast milk and another with breast milk substitutes. “This kind of ‘evidence-based’ research would be ethically and morally unacceptable,” Ms. Sterken said.’

Debate:

What are your thoughts?

Why is the Trump administration opposing this breastfeeding resolution?

Is this about embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers?

Is this about de-stigmatizing the use of breast milk substitutes to support parents?

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