To Protect, Promote and Support Breast-feeding

 

When it comes to global health issues, we at WiRED International welcome rational debate, believing that outcomes of informed discussions guide clinicians and patients toward more healthy practices. And so we were disheartened when we learned that the American government sought to kill a UN resolution that, based on good science, urged governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding.”

 

We were disheartened because we have just completed an evidence-based module in our new Mother and Child Health training series that relies on data from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and 30 years of authoritative research that confirm the distinct benefits of breastfeeding.

 

What benefits? Protections against childhood infections, increased survival rates during the baby’s first year, reduction in allergies, increase in cognitive development and a long-term reduction of obesity risk. A study published in “The Lancet” reported that breastfeeding would prevent nearly one million child deaths each year. We cannot imagine why a government would interfere with a UN resolution that alerts mothers worldwide to these benefits. Others have argued that political ties with a $70 billion infant formula industry might explain it, but the motives of this Administration concern us less than the possible adverse outcomes. As it turns out, the Administration was not successful in defeating the resolution.

 

At the end of the day, the Russians stepped up to introduce the measure when no small country would dare challenge the Americans. And so the breastfeeding message will go forward, despite the Administration’s ham-fisted attempts to quash the resolution.

 

As a health education organization serving populations in low-resource regions, WiRED becomes concerned when a powerful country promotes a policy — motivated by money or ideology — that adversely impacts the health of poor people. These populations already struggle to survive, and they don’t need or deserve a wealthy government impeding their efforts to achieve the best possible health outcomes with what meager resources are available to them.

 

 

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