Tag Archives | Nestle

ILCA Sends Strong Message to PAHO and WHO—Don’t Engage with Organizations That Violate the WHO Code!

By Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC

nestlefailLast October, I learned that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which serves as the Regional Office for the Americas for the World Health Organization (WHO) had accepted a $150,000 donation from Nestle, an unrepentant violator of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes along with its subsequent relevant resolutions, also known as the WHO Code. (For an overview of how the WHO Code impacts infant feeding, check out our recent Lactation Matters post by Norma Escobar.)  Both frustrated and outraged, I sat down and wrote this post to call the breastfeeding world to action to defend the WHO Code from a loss of integrity from an office of WHO itself.  In the days that followed, I was amazed and inspired as hundreds of IBCLCs, breastfeeding supporters, health care providers, public health advocates, mothers and fathers came forward to advocate for the health of moms and babies.  People from all over the world worked tirelessly to defend the WHO Code through Twitter and Facebook, and many advocates took to their blogs to spread the word even further (PhD in Parenting, The Leaky Boob, Human Milk News, BoycottNestle to name just a few). Through this work, over 2000 people signed the petition to Urge the WHO to Cut Ties with Nestle, and  just this month, both Lamaze’s Science and Sensibility and MomsRising posted articles on this topic, thanks to the advocacy work of Jeanette McCulloch, IBCLC and our own Lactation Matters Editor, Amber McCann, IBCLC. As of earlier this week, our dedicated group of advocates had reached 1000 strong, as we continue to work together to defend the WHO Code through social media as the Friends of the WHO Code.

7220_159273157696_4699634_nNow ILCA is taking the campaign to the next level by making a strong public statement against the acceptance of $150,000 of Nestle funding by PAHO.  In a letter to incoming PAHO director Carissa Etienne, the ILCA Board of Directors write:

“…we would like to record our extreme disappointment at PAHO’s decision to continue to accept funding from the food and beverage industry, including Nestle….. It is inappropriate and a distinct conflict of interest for the Pan American Health Organization to rely on funding and advice from the food and beverage industry on how to tackle these diseases.  The implications of such a commercial interest-public health nexus are profound.  Our experience in combating such inappropriate commercial influence in the area of breastfeeding and maternal-child health is long-standing.  Indeed, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and International Code Documentation Centre (ICDC), WHO monitors for the International Code [of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes], have tracked and published reports of Nestle non-compliance with the International Code for decades…

With your appointment as Regional Director of PAHO, we hope this presents an opportunity for PAHO to revisit its policy on acceptance of funds from the food and beverage industry. ”

ILCA’s sentiments are in line with those of 7 former PAHO representatives from both North and South America who wrote an open letter to the PAHO director, decrying the acceptance of funds from Nestle and other food and beverage manufacturers and asking PAHO to put policy in place to prevent this from happening.

“The fact that PAHO received money from the Coca-Cola Company and other food and beverage corporations has damaged its reputation as the leading UN organization concerned with nutrition and public health in our Hemisphere. It has signaled that PAHO policies might be constrained in advancing policies and public health actions in conflict with the commercial interests of these corporations.…We also request that you state a policy that such industries will not be invited to participate in PAHO initiatives or other work designed to formulate public health and nutrition policies.”

Adding to this message, as an NGO in official relations with WHO, ILCA responded to WHO’s March 23, 2013 request for consultation on relationships with NGOs, sending them a clear message to never engage with:

“Commercial for-profit entities that market products detrimental to health including those companies who are not meeting their obligations under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and all subsequent WHA resolutions”

Why are these steps by ILCA so significant?

As an international NGO, ILCA is one of only 183 non-governmental organizations with official relations with the World Health Organization. This means that in addition to the massive amount of work we’ve done voicing the message to WHO and PAHO with tweets, blogs and on Facebook, ILCA is sending the same message formally in an official capacity, as an organization with an on-going relationship with WHO.  In addition, by sending these messages, ILCA is paving the way for other organizations to formally speak out against conflicts of interest in WHO funding.

Imagine the impact if every public health organization, advocate and IBCLC sent letters to WHO and PAHO asking them to reconsider their acceptance of funding from Nestle and others in the food and beverage industry. Already ILCA, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and 7 former PAHO representatives have voiced their concerns.

Let’s use our resources to encourage other organizations and individuals to formally register their discontent on this issue with both PAHO and WHO!

Here is ILCA’s letter, what will yours say?

Want to get involved?  Join us at The Friends of the WHO Code.

Pic for Jennie post 4Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC: I am mother to 2 active boys and an Assistant Research Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. As breastfeeding researcher, I am constantly scanning the literature for articles that guide my research and inform my clinical practice. One of my goals is to increase the evidence base of our profession as lactation consultants. I feel it is important for lactation professionals to be aware of and contribute to breastfeeding research, especially when so much of it is fascinating! As an ongoing contributor to Lactation Matters, it is my hope that you will find the articles I highlight as interesting and informative as I do, and that you will use them to guide you in the important work of lactation professionals and breastfeeding advocates. For more research news and commentary, check out my blog at www.breastfeedingscience.com. I can be reached at jennie.bever@gmail.com.

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World Wide Impact in 10 Minutes or Less: Using Social Media for Powerful Change

By Amber McCann, IBCLC

One week ago, Lactation Matters posted a blog entitled If YOU Don’t Advocate forMothers & Babies, Who Will? If there was any doubt that you, the Lactation Matters readers, were willing to step up to the plate, that doubt has been squashed. Within moments of the publishing the post, the initiative to use social media to ask the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about their acceptance of money from major industry, including Swiftmoney Nestle, was gaining ground.

In response to the blog post, over 400 readers have joined a Facebook group, Friends of the WHO Code, to discuss advocacy and activism as it relates to the WHO Code and social media. Discussions this week have centered around gaining the attention of those involved in this situation and those who have the power to influence decisions. The group has worked hard to get the message out that that acceptance of funds that constitute a conflict of interest are unacceptable for an organization whose purpose is to protect the public health of the world. The group is primarily using Twitter as a means to connect and raise a tidal wave of support. And, it has been SUCCESSFUL!

Wednesday morning, those in the group noticed that the World Health Organization was responding to our questions with the following tweets:

In addition, WHO posted the following message on their Facebook page:

The conversation is beginning in the social media space and is a perfect example of how social media has the power to quickly bring all the players to the table. Although the World Health Organization has engaged in conversation with us, there is much work still to be done.

Do you have 10 minutes?

Would you join the conversation?

In a few short minutes, you can play a significant role in this initiative. Please consider taking 10 minutes and doing the following:

  1. Join the Friends of the WHO Code Facebook group
  2. Go to Twitter* and share the following tweets (just copy and paste!):

#WHOCode protects women&babies from predatory marketing. Shame @Nestle for trying to buy seat at the @PAHOWHO table #nonestle #breastfeeding

Tell @PAHOWHO to give back @Nestle $150K #nonestle #WHOCode #breastfeeding #conflictofinterest http://t.co/nnWJCIfX @WHO

We will not be bought! @PAHOWHO please return the money to @nestle . Stand up for mothers and babies. #WHOCode #breastfeeding #nonestle

If you’ve got more than 10 minutes, would you lend your expertise, insight, and skills to the movement?

Two thoughtful ladies responded to last weeks Call to Action with this quote from Margaret Meade:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The time is now.  Let’s change the world.

* If Twitter feels like another language to you, we understand. Check out the support from Birth Swell and Twitter’s Help Center.

Amber McCann, IBCLC is a  board certified lactation consultant in private practice with Nourish Breastfeeding Support, just outside of Washington, DC and the co-editor of this blog.  She is particularly interested in connecting with mothers through social media channels and teaching others in her profession to do the same. In addition to her work as the co-editor of Lactation Matters, the International Lactation Consultant Association’s official blog, she has written for a number of other breastfeeding support blogs including for HygeiaThe Leaky Boob, and Best for Babes. She also serves on the Social Media Coordinator for GOLD Conferences International and is a regular contributor to The Boob Group, a weekly online radio program for breastfeeding moms.  When she’s not furiously composing tweets (follow her at @iamambermccann) or updating her Facebook page, she’s probably snuggling with one of her three children or watching terrible reality TV.

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If YOU Don’t Advocate for Mothers & Babies, Who Will?

Written by Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC

As IBCLCs, part of our Code of Professional Conduct  (IBLCE November 1st, 2011)calls on us to adhere to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and Subsequent Resolutions.  For those of us who hold this Code in high esteem, the news that WHO is accepting corporate funding and instant payday loans for its obesity initiative is enough to turn our stomachs many times over. According to the article, the Pan American Office of the WHO (based in Washington, D.C.) has begun to accept funding from fast food makers, among them the food giant and WHO Code violator Nestle.

As I struggled to reconcile the idea that an organization focused on world health would accept funding to fight obesity from the organizations that stand the most to gain from creating it, I began to feel crushing discouragement. How on earth can we, as a small band of mothers and breastfeeding professionals supporting the WHO Code, compete with multinational corporations with seemingly endless supplies of money? How can we succeed at supporting the WHO Code when the WHO is taking money from one of the worst offenders?

This is the point in the story when the hero has been soundly defeated. She goes back home with her eyes on the ground kicking stones in the path. She decides she will never win, so she might as well give up and just make noodles for the rest of her life (oh wait, I think that might be from one of my son’s favorite movies).

After a long night of frustration, writing, and a little alcohol, I chose to reframe the issue as a CALL TO ACTION. And if the WHO violating the WHO Code isn’t a call to action slapping me in the face, I don’t know what is!

But what can we do?

Most of us are doing our darndest to help mothers and babies start and continue breastfeeding in the face of tremendous marketing and cultural pressure to do otherwise. We stay awake nights worrying about how to best help a mother struggling with thrush or low supply, pour over research on tongue-tie and search the web for resources for new mothers. What more can we do?

The time has come for us to see our roles expand.  Our job as lactation professionals must not only be to provide individual breastfeeding support, but also to advocate for maternal and child health on a larger scale. If we don’t begin to protest the status quo and work to change the political and cultural barriers that mothers face in their attempts to reach their breastfeeding goals, we will be fighting the same battles for the next 100 years. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) has long been at this fight. They shouldn’t have to fight alone.

In many places, we are beginning to see policies and legislation changing. We need to harness that momentum to move the tide even further. Now more than ever, mothers and babies need us to advocate for them and they need us to empower them to demand change themselves. Not just in the clinic or hospital, but in the grocery stores and restaurants, in the hallways and on the floor of congress. When mothers and babies protest a mother being asked to leave for nursing in public, we need to show up. When our congressmen and women debate policies that impact breastfeeding, we need to show up. When a news station wants to run a story on breastfeeding, we need to show up. When the WHO takes money from Nestle, we need to show up!

For some, showing up means planning and attending nurse-ins and rallies, for others it is talking, blogging and posting information on the cultural and political barriers to breastfeeding on websites, twitter and Facebook pages. Still others have the ability to influence corporations and other organizations they are a part of by changing the way they do business, who they work with, and how they support their employees. Even beginning to have conversations with the mothers you work with about choosing to support companies that uphold the WHO Code can have an impact!

We can also leverage our resources by joining forces with other organizations working to improve maternal and child health. In addition to IBFAN and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding ActionNatasha K. Sriraman has written about the organization 1000 Days for the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.  With a goal of improving life by improving maternal and infant nutrition in the first 1000 days –pregnancy through the second birthday—1000 days seems like a natural ally of lactation consultants and maternal-child health advocates.  Working with like-minded organizations will increase our ability to impact policies and legislation that prevent corporations like Nestle from sabotaging breastfeeding in both developed and developing countries by marketing their products directly to mothers.

When I was younger, I was under the illusion that if something important were happening, someone else would take care of it. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that is rarely the case. When the WHO takes money from a formula company, something is terribly wrong. If we don’t do something about it, who will?

If you are interested, please consider joining the “Friends of the WHO Code” Facebook Group to discuss violations of the WHO Code, especially those on social media, and how we can empower lactation professionals, volunteers and mothers to stand up for its importance.

Jennie Bever Babendure, PhD, IBCLC: I am mother to 2 active boys and an Assistant Research Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. As breastfeeding researcher, I am constantly scanning the literature for articles that guide my research and inform my clinical practice. One of my goals is to increase the evidence base of our profession as lactation consultants. I feel it is important for lactation professionals to be aware of and contribute to breastfeeding research, especially when so much of it is fascinating! As an ongoing contributor to Lactation Matters, it is my hope that you will find the articles I highlight as interesting and informative as I do, and that you will use them to guide you in the important work of lactation professionals and breastfeeding advocates. For more research news and commentary, check out my blog at www.breastfeedingscience.com. I can be reached at jennie.bever@gmail.com.

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