At the World Health Assembly in Geneva this spring, officials expected a major resolution encouraging breastfeeding worldwide to easily receive enough votes from government delegates to pass - until the Trump administration opposed it.
The U.S. delegation attempted, unsuccessfully, to derail a resolution on the topic of breastfeeding at the World Health Organization's annual meeting in May, The New York Times reported over the weekend.
A weekend report in The New York Times stated that USA delegates to a recent World Health Organization meeting sought to delete from a resolution on infant nutrition language that urged member states to "protect, promote and support" breastfeeding.
The New York Times said the US was "embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers" and even threatened Ecuador and other countries with financial retaliation.
After several other Latin American and African countries declined to introduce the measure, fearing retaliation, Russian Federation successfully proposed the measure without facing threats from the U.S. "If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid".More news: Andrew Benintendi Comes Up Short In MLB's All-Star Final Vote
"What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the USA holding the world hostage and trying to overturn almost 40 years of consensus on [the] best way to protect infant and your child health", Randall said.
A 2016 study published by The Lancet says breastfeeding could save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year.
An Ecuadorian official said that his government did not anticipate the harshness of America's response.
"The Trump Administration believes it's a public health priority that women and their families have all the information to decide how to appropriately deliver nutrition to their children, whether it is via breastfeeding or other methods", an HHS spokesman said.
For their part, the United States delegates have said that it wasn't corporations' best interests they had in mind, but that they were instead trying to fight against "stigmatizing" women who choose to formula feed. 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. When Ecuador backed off - after all, no small country likes to be in Washington's gun sights - the US threatened any other country that might want to introduce it.More news: Joe Root must consider T20 future after being dropped for India clash
The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which was the lead agency for the U.S.in these negotiations, did not speak directly to the accusation of threats. The editors then again accused the Trump administration of siding with "corporate interests".
The final resolution retained much of the original wording, despite American efforts.
In 1981-the height of a massive controversy over Nestlé's aggressive marketing of formula to mothers in poor countries-the "availability of formula" resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in areas with bad water, they found.More news: Perisic hails 'dream' goal as Croatia reach final