Do economic interests take precedence over health?
American media is currently reporting on an incident at the WHO World Assembly in May that recently came to light. According to media reports, U.S. officials have tried to prevent an international resolution to promote breastfeeding. Everyone involved was shocked and stunned, since no one expected resistance to the scientifically proven benefits of breastfeeding.
Economic interests in promoting baby replacement foods are suspected to be behind the US stance on breastfeeding. The WHO resolution on promoting breastfeeding should be adopted at the assembly. The plan provided for a quick and easy execution. Based on decades of research into the positive effects of breast milk and breastfeeding, the WHO proposed a resolution to promote breast milk and to limit the inaccurate and misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
The United States delegation turned the assembly upside down
As the New York Times and other media report, U.S. officials attempted to act against certain passages that were designed to restrict advertising for baby food. When this was unsuccessful, they suddenly began threatening Ecuador with the imposition of trade restrictions and withdrawing important military aid if the resolution initiated by Ecuador was not dropped. The Ecuadorian government then complied.
We were amazed, horrified and also sad
The New York Times relies on the testimony of dozens of attendees from multiple countries who attended the meeting. "We were amazed, horrified and also sad," said Patti Rundall, director of the British organization "Baby Milk Action" in a press release. This is synonymous with blackmail. In its view, the United States is attempting, for economic reasons, to break the nearly 40-year consensus on the best way to protect infant and toddler health.
At the end of the arduous negotiations, the Russians were able to prevail. They took on the role of Ecuador and enforced the measure. According to media reports, there were no threats from the Americans here.
Breastfeeding is proven to be the best way to feed your baby
Again and again, studies show that breast milk is the best nutrition for the baby. Most of the time, mothers breastfeed their baby far too short. Long breastfeeding protects children later in life from, for example, inflammatory bowel diseases, neurodermatitis and asthma. Breast milk also offers optimal protection against infectious diseases.
WHO takes no position
According to media reports, the WHO took no position in the dispute. "The exchange of opinions between different delegations will not be commented on," reports WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarević. From a health perspective, the WHO is clearly in favor of breastfeeding and recommends breastfeeding exclusively in the first six months of life. According to the World Health Organization, only 40 percent of all children are currently breastfed to this extent. If the rate rose to 100 percent worldwide, WHO estimates that 820,000 children could be saved from death each year. (vb)