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10 July 2018, 03:57 | Darnell Patrick
President Donald Trump weighed in Monday to defend women's "access" to formula milk, after an article accused the United States of seeking to torpedo a World Health Organization resolution on breastfeeding.
They frantically tried to find other countries who would sponsor the resolution, but these nations - mostly from Latin America and Africa - were frightened off by the specter of American threats. The resolution was expected to pass easily, but US delegates aimed to remove language that encouraged countries to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding" in an alleged alignment with baby formula manufacturers. "Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty".
USA delegates pushed for removal of resolution language calling on governments to "protect, promote and support breast-feeding." . 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.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which said it did not threaten Ecuador, defended its decision to push back against the resolution.
"The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children", an HHS spokesman said in the email to the Times.
"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". The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
The resolution was aimed at limiting "inaccurate or misleading marketing of formula", and encouraging breastfeeding support in all countries. Starting infants out on a substitute in a maternity ward can make breastfeeding more hard for mothers later. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests".
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They also sought to hinder World Health Organization efforts to provide lifesaving medications to undeveloped countries. Taking a break from being an all-purpose bogeyman, Russia, we're told, saved the day and the United States was thwarted.
Hundreds of government delegates at the assembly expected the resolution to be approved swiftly.
Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.
The move reflected the U.S. government's championing of the $US70 billion ($94 billion) baby formula industry - mainly based in the U.S. and Europe.
A 2016 report in the medical journal The Lancet estimated that 823,000 child deaths around the world could be prevented each year through universal breastfeeding.
The United States suggested a shorter and more streamlined resolution that encouraged promoting exclusive breastfeeding as well as global initiatives to encourage breastfeeding in hospitals.
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