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10 July 2018, 04:12 | Erica Roy
The Department of Health and Human Services, which tried to change the wording of the resolution, denies that it was involved in making threats against Ecuador.
HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley said in a statement responding to the account of the resolution that the U.S. "has a long history of supporting mothers and breastfeeding around the world and is the largest bilateral donor of such foreign assistance programs".
"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. The American negotiators were successful, however, in removing language that called on the World Health Organization to provide support to member states seeking to halt "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", the delegate said.
According to the Times report on Sunday based on interviews with dozens of meeting participants, USA negotiations in Geneva objected to the resolution encouraging breastfeeding around the world and allegedly resorted to intimidation tactics to bully other countries into dropping it.
When U.S. efforts to water down the measure failed, the delegates reportedly threatened Ecuadorian delegates with retaliatory trade measures and said the U.S. would withdraw military aid unless the country withdrew the measure.
The Trump administration's slavish devotion to corporate profits and their contempt for the health and well-being of Americans and people throughout the world is beyond appalling. Washington, supporting the pharmaceutical industry, has long resisted calls to modify patent laws as a way of increasing drug availability in the developing world, but health advocates say the Trump administration has ratcheted up its opposition to such efforts.
He said the United States did not directly pressure Moscow to back away from the measure.
Health advocates had trouble finding another sponsor who did not fear USA "retaliation".
The resolution was passed when it was introduced by Russian Federation, but the U.S. did successfully strike out language calling for World Health Organization support to nations trying to prevent "inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children", and added the phrase "evidence based" to certain provisions. Nevertheless, the United States delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period. This includes providing essential nutrients, hormones, and antibodies to protect against disease.
According to 2016 Lancet study cited in the Times report, universal breastfeeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths across the world every year, as well as yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs.
A common argument promoted by the breast milk substitute industry frames the issue as one of access and choice.
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