The World Health Organisation (WHO) has today released a statement distancing itself from the decision to accept money from the food and beverage industry, a decision it describes as "unfortunate".
Moves in 2011 by the WHO Director General to set up a multi-stakeholder public health forum were opposed by Member States and public interest organisations such as Baby Milk Action and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), leading to WHO to take a clearer stand on conflicts of interest.
WHO's statement on PAHO's link to Nestlé and other companies states:
Nestlé systematically undermines public health messages by, for example, claiming its formula 'protects' babies, when babies fed on formula are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty more likely to die (example below, Nestlé advertising Nan formula on television in Armenia in 2011). It also refuses to bring instructions on preparing formula into line with WHO guidance, so denying parents information on how to reduce the risks from the possible intrinsic contamination of powdered infant formula, which is not a sterile product.
Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action said:
The intervention by Patti Rundall, Policy Director of Baby Milk Action, at the World Health Organisation Executive Board meeting in 2011 regarding the proposed multi-stakeholder forum, which has since died a natural death, raises some of the key issues about conflicts of interest with particular reference to infant feeding. See: