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December 21, 2008 at 11:34 am Comments (2)

Hoping for true change in the US healthcare system

Barack Obama has promised true change in America. The pharmaceutical industry is probably one of the areas in this country which needs this change most. In the United States, corporate profit is currently ahead of human health. We need the health priorities of our nation to be forefront in the health care policy of the FDA, HHS, and other health-related agencies — not the high profits of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.

Breastfeeding

In 1981 the US was the only country to vote against a voluntary World Health Code for the marketing of breastmilk substitutes, its stance being along the lines of “Breastmilk is good for babies but not for business”. Today, we still do not have a national code of this nature, despite the Clinton administration’s endorsement of the WHO/UNICEF code in 1994.

With some of the highest rates of both infant and maternal morality, the United States needs to promote breastfeeding — an action which will improve our infants health, decrease infant obesity, lower the number of hospitalizations, and more. Breastmilk fed infants don’t need the Rota-virus vaccine.  Yet despite these proven advantages, the USDA’s WIC (Womens Infants and Children) Program provides nearly half of all US newborn infants with free infant formula.  Not only does WIC give taxpayer money to infant formula companies, it promotes a product greatly inferior to breastmilk.

There are many instances where the infant formula industry has interfered and watered down breastfeeding promotion initiatives, such as those of HHS.

Breastfeeding saves lives and gives babies a passport to life. The health care cost savings of breastfeeding are tremendous. (See my book, Milk, Money and Madness, for details.) We need a strong program to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Maternity Leave

Most industrialized countries have 12-weeks or more of paid maternity. The United States of America has none. The health of American mothers and their infants should be of first priority. Should America not be a world-leader in this area, as well? America should have a federal minimum of 12-weeks paid maternity leave.

Comments

  1. Miriam Labbok at December 24, 2008:

    I love what you said.
    only other:
    Foreign public health aid?
    More public health/breastfeeding research funding?
    national breastfeeding ‘czar’? right now, there is no multisectoral council as is called for in Innocenti, and for that matter no paid maternity leave as called for at Innocenti and signed by the US!!

    Happy Hanukah and a healthy new year.
    M

  2. Nicole at December 27, 2008:

    From your lips to our government’s ears! Our standards for breastfeeding and maternity leave are abhorrent. It’s time to catch up with the rest of the “modern” world.