Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Resolution?

Dear Friends:
As we start the new year, please think about our children, our future, and about families here at home in the US, as well as around the globe.
As you know, my work has always been towards truly enabling women to make unbiased evidence-based decisions concerning how they will nurture and space their children, and to succeed with the best health-supportive actions. Therefore, I have always prioritized research and program change, rather than the so often vain attempts to fight the power of commercial industry in the US and globally.
However...
it seems that here in the US there has been insufficient progress in terms of government and public action to ensure that our children receive the best start on life. While some individuals in USG and state level nutrition leadership are sincerely and actively pushing to learn more about feeding practices and to bring this information to the attention of the public, the greater HEALTH community sits relatively silent. Breastfeeding support efforts of the health care community as a whole and the public health community, specifically, have done little to challenge commercial formula industry's efforts to misinform, lobby, pay off hospitals and government programs, and use legal protection for their efforts to prioritize their profits over the health of our children.
The 2008 news is not all bleak: we have new survey information showing increases in initiation of breastfeeding and data on hospital practices, and new clinical guidance from the USG supporting breastfeeding, and USDA/WIC is launching a massive effort to ensure that WIC provides increased support for breastfeeding while continuing to be the single largest purchaser of commercial, overpriced, rebated formula in the world.
However, the news today includes yet another insight to commercial formula industry efforts to prioritize their income over the health of the public. (post below)
As we start the new year, is there any way we might increase the pressure on commercial infant formula companies to support the health of the public, rather that work against it? Formula is a decent product - if needed - but this industry constantly uses their massive income and resources to mislead the public and to lobby to sustain poor health practices. Their rationale is that they must make money for their stockholders.
Will our new administration have the ..... to stand up to rampant industrial abuse of public health? Will they fight for paid maternity leave so that mothers will have the opportunity to be mothers to their children? Will there be government support to institute and regulate the Ten Steps for breastfeeding-friendly practices in US hospitals? And, will the government establish the multi-sectoral approach (Dept of Education, Dept of Labor, FDA, FTC,etc) to supporting breastfeeding - all four of these actions called for in the Innocenti Declaration signed by the USG in 1990?
What should we resolve to do in the New Year in this regard?
Please comment and let others know what you think we can do, and let me know if I can help in any manner.
Best wishes for the new year....M

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