U.S. Delegates Opposed an International Resolution That Supported Breastfeeding

U.S. Delegates Opposed an International Resolution That Supported Breastfeeding

At the United Nations World Health Assembly this spring officials from the United States held up a resolution created to promote breastfeeding by attempting to remove specific language according to the New York Times.

The Times reported Sunday that USA officials turned to threats in an effort to throw cold water on a WHA resolution holding that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for young children and pushes countries to limit the spread of inaccurate information about breast milk substitutes.

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.

At the same World Health Assembly meeting, according to the Times, U.S. officials also removed suggestions of introducing a soda tax from a document advising countries on fighting high rates of obesity.

"Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatised; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies".

At first, the US delegation tried to just water down the language in the resolution, but when that didn't work, they began to threaten and bully countries who were supporting the resolution.

"We were astonished, appalled, and also saddened", Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, told the Times.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, in an email to the Times, defended the administration's stance. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced. When Ecuador refused to water down the resolution as the United States requested, according to the Times, the Trump administration threatened punishing trade measures and withdrawing military aid.

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Mothers breastfeeding their children.

While not all women are able to or choose to breastfeed, decades of research have shown that breastfeeding carries health benefits for babies and mothers, as well as saving money for families.

Companies that sell baby formula generate $70billion annually, but those sales have been stagnant due to the increased popularity of breastfeeding.

Critics slammed back at Trump, the Independent reported.

The United States tried to stop a pro-breastfeeding resolution at the United Nations, but ultimately failed.

"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" - a Russian delegate to the UN.

Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of worldwide and Development Studies in Geneva, said there was a growing fear that the Trump administration could cause lasting damage to worldwide health institutions like the WHO that have been vital in containing epidemics like Ebola and the rising death toll from diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the developing world. Some language was still changed however, including removing "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children" and adding "evidence-based" to some statements.

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