Though high quality, safely prepared substitutes can provide adequate nutrition for infants, emphasis on breastfeeding stretches back through decades of concern from health experts and officials that milk-substitute makers were causing harm with their marketing strategies. When that failed, they turned to threats....
Ecuador, which was slated to introduce the resolution, was the first country targeted by American officials.
The administration told Ecuador that if it did not pull its resolution, it would respond by cutting military aid and adopting harsh, retaliatory trade measures. The Ecuadorian delegates acquiesced, and health advocates struggled to find another sponsor for the resolution.
Officials from the US, Uruguay, and Mexico said that at least a dozen other countries-many of which are poor countries in Africa and Latin America-dropped the resolution after the US sucked away their interest.
However, the USA stopped short of going after Russian Federation, which in the end stepped in to introduce the resolution.
You have to give them credit: big business gets what they pay for when they buy a Republican administration.
Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, said she was "appalled and also saddened" by the US government's alleged threats.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman told the Times the initial version of the resolution "placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition for their children".
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Hundreds of government delegates had gathered at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in Geneva in May.
The US eventually relented and the resolution passed largely in its original form.
"We recognise not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons". It added that "not all women are able to breastfeed", and they "should have the choice and access to alternatives".
The US State Department has refused to comment on the report.
With more mothers in developed nations turning to breastfeeding, the Third World is regarded as a potential growth market for infant formula companies.
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. "At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?" Nevertheless, the USA delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.
World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes.
According to 2016 Lancet study cited in the Times report, universal breastfeeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths across the world every year, as well as yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs.