Protecting babies is everyone’s business

Angela White, a breastfeeding councillor in the United States who writes an amazing breastfeeding blog on Blisstree, talked about Senator Edward Kennedy last Fall. I really like her entry and I thought I would share it with you today. I wish I did more to protect babies and mothers. Once you have a certain knowledge, I believe it is not only the politicians’s responsibility to protect the public health’s best interest, but every citizen’s responsibility to do so. I had the chance to speak with the Canadian Minister Rob Moore last Friday and I did talk about the World Health International Code for the marketing of breastmilk substitutes. Some marketing practices should be made illegal in Canada and the United States too.

Here’s Angela’s entry:

As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Health Subcommittee, Senator Edward Kennedy played a crucial role in the 1978 Senate hearing on the marketing of f*ormula in developing countries. In his opening speech, Senator Kennedy asked:

Whose responsibility is it to control the advertising, marketing and promotional activities which may create a market in spite of public health considerations?

In the hearing itself, Senator Kennedy put a Nestlé executive through a very pointed line of questioning on the company’s social responsibility in countries where poverty and the lack of a sanitary water supply make f*ormula-feeding particularly dangerous. Watch this fascinating clip:

Patti Rundall, Policy Director for Baby Milk Action and Co-coordinator of the WABA Advocacy Task Force, highlighted Kennedy’s contribution:

Senator Edward Kennedy cared not only for US citizens but also for international health. It was his vision, as Chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, which instigated the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981. This Code is a benchmark for good practice and is used by governments all over the world to protect infant and young child health from unethical marketing.

The question in my mind is, who will take up the torch now? Who in the United States will hold f*ormula companies to the standards of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes?

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