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13 Jul 2018

Donald Trump’s United States Administration has sparked outrage at the Word Health Assembly over tactics its delegation used to try to stymie an international resolution promoting breastfeeding.

The US delegation is accused of not only vigorously talking down the resolution, but also of employing bullyboy tactics against other nations to get them to fall into line with America.

The worst accusation is that American diplomats threatened Ecuador with trade sanctions and a withdrawal of military assistance in the South American country’s fight against organised crime and gang violence.

The original resolution encouraged governments across the globe to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding,” but team USA fought against the wording and – according to reports from the meeting in Geneva – acted aggressively towards those supporting it.

The delegation was also reported to have threatened to cut US Government funding to the World Health Organisation.

Health advocates have described the antics as a clear example of the Trump presidency looking after its big business mates – this time in the multibillion-dollar infant formula and dairy industries.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened. What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the US holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on best way to protect infant and young child health,” Patti Rundall of the UK-based campaign Baby Milk Action told the New York Times.

The Russian delegation stepped in and modified the text of the resolution before reintroducing it. This cleared the way for it to be eventually passed, with US support.

The WHO and the AMA encourage breastfeeding on health benefits grounds, which is backed up by numerous high-level, peer-reviewed studies.

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 13 Jul 2018