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Trump says USA had opposed formula limits, not breastfeeding

11 July, 2018, 09:44 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Russian stepped-in to save a World Health Assembly resolution to encourage breastfeeding

A front-page New York Times article claimed that, at a World Health Assembly in May, the United States opposed a resolution to encourage breastfeeding.

The Trump administration has forced the South American country to back down over its support for breastfeeding at the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly in May, The New York Times reports.

The US delegation threatened retribution on trade and military aid to Ecuador to get the nation to drop the resolution, according to the Times, and said at least a dozen countries also avoided the resolution out of fear of the US.

The US directed its ire at Ecuador when the South American nation agreed to introduce the resolution.

Sterken says she was encouraged by how strongly many countries resisted the USA bid, and she praised Canada for doing its part to champion breastfeeding initiatives.

The State Department official said the United States works "to identify common cause when possible and does not shy away from expressing its disagreement when necessary".

"The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out", the president tweeted. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. It said, "The Americans did not threaten them".

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, in an email to the Times, defended the administration's stance.

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The official said the United States "recognizes that breastfeeding and provision of breast milk is best for all babies", but also recognizes that "not all women are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons".

The resolution had been expected to be approved "quickly and easily", the newspaper said.

World Health Organization has long supported breastfeeding, and years of research has found breast milk to be healthier than other substitutes.

"At the same time, powerful lobby groups have been working to curtail government legislation regulating formula marketing and promotion, in the Philippines and across the world", the Guardian reported. However, the USA was successful in removing language that said the World Health Organization would support countries trying to stop "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children". "I'm really pleased that Russian Federation did take it forward on a very good basis to actually make sure that breastfeeding would be protected", she said, but noted that the USA then put their own alternative resolution forward "with nothing in it".

The World Health Organization said it could not comment on exchanges between different delegations, but stressed its support for breastfeeding: "Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival".

"We were talking to all the other countries and could see that they were backing off and very frightened that they would be sort-of got at by the U.S. government if they went forward", she said, noting that a lot of countries -particularly poorer ones- take money from the USA in some form of aid so it is "a big deal for them to actually lose that money".

The intensity of the administration's opposition to the breastfeeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported WHO's long-standing policy of encouraging breastfeeding.

The New York Times, meanwhile, published a piece that painted America as a bully. The Ecuadorian delegates acquiesced, and health advocates struggled to find another sponsor for the resolution. "The U.S. didn't need to have a bigger say".

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