Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sitting at a meeting in DC...What will we need to do provoke action?

Recently I have had the opportunity to attend several meetings that MAY have a real impact on the future of breastfeeding...a bit of deja vu...and a bit of hope.
Back in the 1990s following the Innocenti Declaration, there was a spate of activity in an ill-fated effort to implement the four operational targets: a national multisectoral committee and authority; Ten Step in hospitals; Code of Marketing, and; maternity protection laws. The US promised to implement all by 1995...dot, dot, dot...

BUT some good things did arise from that era: the USBC - a collaboration of health organizations with interest in the issue; the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine to engage physicians in education on breastfeeding; more hospitals practicing more of the Ten Steps, and the family leave act, so that women cannot be fired for taking some leave. Yes this is progress, but miles to go.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at 2 starkly contrasting USG meetings: one entitled A Call for Action on Breastfeeding, the other - Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use - my role, the focus on contraceptive use during breastfeeding. The Call for Action, with several of our federal supporters hosting, was full of creative and innovative ideas and ways to increase action on bresatfeeding. I left that one totally enthused and having faith in our breastfeeding-supportive Feds!!!

The second did not go quite like that...although the report is not out, Dr Bob Hatcher went ahead and announce "any contraceptive can be used from birth" or some such, in the OB/Gyn News. It is very interesting what emerges when the audience members have a pre-existing agenda.

So what do we do to get a true representation of leadership so that we can really achieve change?

Today I am sitting in a meeting called by Ruth Lawrence and Cindy Howard in the name of their journal,Breastfeeding Medicine, sponsored by Kellogg, and self-named "First Annual Summit" on breastfeeding. No organizations or professional groups were invited, so USBC is not here, APHA is not here, among others. So far, we have heard at least 12 speakers, with no time for questions and no program insights. That is not to say that the speakers have not been interesting - they have been quite good: Larry Grummer-Strawn and David Meyers represented their agencies well - intelligent, informative, and insightful. Yay! the other speakers covered a variety of issues - what WIC does, how to lobby, cultural considerations, growth, media. All were good speakers and most quite informative. I am not clear what new will emerge from this handpicked group, but I look forward to the working groups to see what 45 physicians, 12 PhDs, and 13 sundry others (not an LC in sight) will have to say about the nuts and bolts of workplace, public education, healthcare systems and support services - also professional education -and how to create program change nationwide. Well, about 25 of us actally have some real program development roles, so perhaps we can help. We are going to the workgroups now...All remains to be revealed! Here's looking for the best.
Will write more tomorrow!

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