Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

USA threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

USA threatened nations over breastfeeding resolution

Among the myriad issues discussed at these annual meetings are policies and initiatives related to infant nutrition, breastfeeding, and breast milk substitutes, topics that gained prominence in the Assembly in the 1980s.

World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed for at least six months, but also noted that those younger than that "get everything they need from breast milk or formula". In addition, universal breastfeeding could save $300 billion in reduced health care costs and improved economic prospects for children.

A Guardian/Save the Children investigation in some of the most deprived areas of the Philippines found that Nestlé and three other companies were offering doctors, midwives and local health workers free trips to lavish conferences, meals, tickets to shows and the cinema and even gambling chips, earning their loyalty.

The 2016 discussion was about extending the ban of marketing food supplements to children as old as three years of age. The resolution ended up passing, though the USA did succeed in getting the language altered slightly.

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The New York Times, meanwhile, published a piece that painted America as a bully. However, the USA 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".

Officials also reportedly threatened to cut U.S. aid to the World Health Organization - over $118m (£89m) this year, which amounts to roughly 15% of the organisation's annual budget.

The measure was expected to be introduced by Ecuador.

The U.S. threatened to withdraw military aid and engage in punitive trade tactics with Ecuador after it introduced the breastfeeding resolution at the World Health Assembly, the Times reported. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

The final resolution largely reflected the original wording. "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".

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The spokesman asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.

Mr. Trump said the country "strongly supports" breastfeeding, but the issue the US representatives had was with denying access to formula.

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.

'We're not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world, ' the diplomat said. The report said the U.S. delegation was also unsuccessful at defeating a different measure on access to medicines.

But, at a gathering in Geneva this spring, the USA made a forceful case to defend the interests of manufacturers of breast milk substitutes.

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