Monday, 23 July, 2018

Trump denies United States opposition to World Health Organization breastfeeding resolution

Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg via Getty Images
Johnnie Parks | 12 July, 2018, 18:29

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.

In addition to the trade threats, an Ecuadorean government official told the Times the USA threatened to withdrawal military support from northern Ecuador, where violence from boarding Colombia causes ongoing issues. Under pressure from the infant formula industry, USA officials threatened retaliatory trade and military measures if Ecuador moved forward, according to the Times.

The New York Times, meanwhile, published a piece that painted America as a bully.

The American move was apparently an attempt to protect the interests of infant formula manufacturers.

"It harkens back to what we saw transpire with his tax bill-all signs of this administration show that they are protecting $1.5 trillion windfalls for corporations but then turn around and can't support programs beneficial for women and their families", she said.

A weekend report in The New York Times stated that U.S. delegates to a recent World Health Organization meeting sought to delete from a resolution on infant nutrition language that urged member states to "protect, promote and support" breastfeeding. In the end, Russian Federation introduced it and it passed with only minor changes.

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President Donald Trump sent out a tweet on Monday criticizing a New York Times article that said his administration pressured less wealthy countries not to propose a resolution encouraging breastfeeding. Here, they reportedly hand out "infant nutrition" pamphlets to mothers, which appear to be medical advice but in fact recommend specific formula brands and sometimes have money-off coupons. "Infant formula is the only safe, nutritious feeding option for babies who can not or do not receive breast milk". It said, "The Americans did not threaten them".

President Trump responded by pointing out that his Administration is not anti-breastfeeding but in favor of giving women more choice-an exquisitely Trumpian way of co-opting the left's script. Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, added in a statement that women who can't breastfeed should not be "stigmatized", but rather "equally supplied with information". In war zones and during humanitarian crises, infant formula makes sense, said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, an author and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in this piece.

Somehow things escalated from there into the US threatening Ecuador--the nation that was introducing the resolution--with "punishing trade measures".

The Times notes a 2016 series in the Lancet in which researchers estimated that universal breastfeeding could spare the lives of 823,000 children each year and save $302 billion in economic losses.

"The United States believed the resolution as originally drafted called on states to erect hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", said a State Department official.

The US directed its ire at Ecuador when the South American nation agreed to introduce the resolution. "Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington's strong-arm tactics", The Times reports.

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