At the recent World Health Organization meeting, the country of Ecuador proposed passage of a resolution in support of breastfeeding and urging limitations on the misleading ads that formula companies run in poor countries.
It was kind of a no-brainer. Health officials, scientists, and medical professionals know that breastfeeding provides the best nutrition for babies, thanks to hundreds of studies plus the fact that centuries of breastfeeding literally has led to the ongoing duration of humankind.
Ecuador had a good reason for favoring the proposal. A quarter of its population lives in abject poverty, and 20 percent of children under 5 suffer from stunted growth because they don’t have enough to eat. Part of the problem: formula companies in Ecuador and surrounding countries, using misleading ad campaigns, have convinced poor and uneducated mothers that infant formula provides a better head start for babies than nursing. First of all, it’s absolutely untrue. Secondly, many of these women don’t have access to clean drinking water for mixing the formula, so the babies become susceptible to serious gastrointestinal complications, many of which are life-threatening. Thousands of babies literally die from formula.
The WHO was ready to pass the resolution and move on to other global issues, like the world shortage of vaccines and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, which is still a thing, y’all. But the United States opposed the resolution.
WHY? Why, why, why? Okay, yes, I do think my belief that Trump’s very existence is a sign of the apocalypse might be an exaggeration, but then he does something like this to confirm it! He really is trying to ruin the world. His official reasoning is this, copied from a tweet: The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty.
A. Nobody will be denied access to formula.
B. IT’S NOT TRUE THAT “WOMEN NEED THIS OPTION BECAUSE OF MALNUTRITION AND POVERTY.” It’s false, a lie, a prevarication, a stupid anti-science assertion, a way for Donald Trump to use his platform as president to alter the truth and change reality. It makes me out of my head with rage. Is the sky now purple? Does smoking cure the common cold? Roseanne is making a comeback?
The real reason for U.S. opposition, political wonks surmise, is that Trump wants to support major American economic powerhouses like formula-maker Nestle, which has been guilty of running some of the misleading ads.
Although there was a general consensus among WHO members supporting the resolution, the United States threatened Ecuador if it moved forward with it. For real. We threatened a country roughly the size of Arizona where four out of five children live in homes affected by neglect or abuse. We told Ecuador that if it moved forward with its breastfeeding resolution, we would punish it with trade sanctions and stop supporting its military. We are such assholes.
So Ecuador blinked and withdrew its resolution. BUT GUESS WHAT? Russia apparently isn’t afraid of the U.S. because DOSSIER, so it picked up the resolution, proposed it, and it passed. The U.S. didn’t say anything more about it, and now the World Health Organization’s official stance continues to be that breastfeeding is what’s best for babies.