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On October 19, 2012 Reuters broke the story that the Pan American Health Office (PAHO) of the World Health Organization (WHO) had changed its policy regarding contributions from industry, and among others had accepted $150,000 from Nestlé.
Nestlé is known worldwide as a major violator of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, also known as the WHO Code. The WHO Code does not limit the use or availability of formula, but instead ensures that formula companies don’t make false claims about their products or unduly influence new and expectant mothers. The WHO Code was adopted by WHO in 1981 to protect families from the predatory marketing of breastmilk substitutes which has decreased breastfeeding and increased infant illness and death for decades.
WHO and PAHO are both using complicated language about policy to rationalize the acceptance of funds from Nestlé, but these are excuses that protect commercial interests while leaving families exposed to unethical marketing.
Although WHO is not an enforcement body for the WHO Code, many governments and other entities abide by its standards. These standards lose their influence and WHO loses its credibility if WHO's own affiliates ignore them! Please join our petition to tell the PAHO to return Nestlé's $150,000 contribution. Let PAHO know you are paying attention and will hold them true to their mission!
Dear Mirta Roses Periago and the Pan American Health Office of the World Health Organization,
We the undersigned are extremely dismayed to learn that you have accepted a $150,000 contribution from Nestlé, a company well known for its predatory marketing practices in violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes adopted in 1981 by your parent body, the World Health Organization. Your acceptance of funds from Nestlé represents not only a grave conflict of interest, but also a breach of trust with the mothers and children you protect, threatening the credibility and influence of the PAHOWHO and the WHO and the health of infants worldwide. We urge you to return the money to Nestlé immediately to signal to the world that your guardianship of infant health endures in spite of industry pressure. We are confident that your rejection of tainted funds will inspire WHO Code-compliant entities to step up to ensure the protection of breastfeeding, and provide their support to your worthy health promotion efforts without deceiving consumers.
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