Donald Trump defends US position against global breastfeeding resolution

Ric Francis via ZUMA

"With respect to news published in the United States on this date, the Public Ministry reiterates that Ecuador maintains its public policy of promoting and protecting breastfeeding without variation as the exclusive food for newborns up to 6 months", a statement by the Ecuadorean health ministry said Monday reacting to the report and denying backing off from the resolution under USA pressure.

Health and Human Services spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley also described as "patently false" attempts to portray the USA position as anti-breastfeeding. "These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so", a spokesman said. The World Health Organization promotes breastfeeding as a health measure to save the lives of babies and improve their nutrition. It was eventually sponsored by Russian Federation, which, the Times reported, did not receive similar opposition from the United States.

The U.S. leaders fought unsuccessfully to deprive poor countries access to life-saving medication and were able to get statements supporting the removal of soda taxes from guidelines of the countries struggling with increasing obesity rates.

The Times said Ecuador was slated to introduce the World Health Assembly breastfeeding resolution, but after the USA threatened to "unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid", it "quickly acquiesced".

"We all started talking about it at the conference", said Dr. Mitchell. The strong-arm tactics worked, and Ecuador dropped its support of the resolution.

"A Russian delegation stepped in to right a wrong perpetrated by the Trump administration, as United Nations and WHO officials offered no resistance to US demands supporting big business at the expense of infant health", reads its lede.

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Ecuador was set to introduce a resolution based on that research, but as more than a dozen worldwide representatives confirmed to the Times, American delegates threatened the smaller nation with cuts to military aid and reduced trade deals if they went forward with the proposal. Such companies have lobbied to have their product included among in the essential recommendations given by hospitals or health care personnel to new mothers. These are situations during which it has been common to solicit formula donations for the affected countries, says Maaike Arts, an early childhood nutrition specialist with UNICEF.

There were some signs even before the meeting in Geneva that there might be some pushback against the original resolution.

The resolution seemed more than reasonable; apparently not to the USA delegates. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests". Health and Human Services spokespeople repeatedly denied the allegation. "It is also bad for the multibillion-dollar global infant formula (and dairy) business".

Did the infant-formula industry, which obviously benefits when women don't breastfeed, push the Trump administration to to take its mind-bending stand against encouraging breastfeeding? Perez-Escamilla is also a scientific adviser to World Health Organization on the topic of breastfeeding.

Over the years, USA support of breastfeeding has increased and its hostility to the code of marketing restrictions has softened, several nutrition experts said.

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