Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Faith groups do more to promote "healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies"

The Reverend Cannon Kabana and his wife Damalie Kabanda talk to their congregation about the benefits of family planning at St. Mark's Church in Uganda. More religious institutions are promoting the "healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies to their members. Photo: Mona Bormet, Christian Connections for International Health.
This was originally published on Oct. 31, 2018 on Global Health TV.

The role of religious organizations in promoting and advocating for voluntary modern methods of family planning – once met with skepticism or derision — is gradually gaining more acceptance both in the religious and secular worlds. However, the faith-based community still does not get significant funding for family planning (or global development more broadly) despite a growing consensus that faith-based organizations (FBOs) are vital and trusted development partners at the community level. 

When family planning is positioned primarily as a major public health contributor to improved maternal, child, and family health, the trend has clearly been for growing support for family planning in most religious communities,” said Ray Martin, who was executive director of Christian Connections for International Health(CCIH), a membership network of faith and secular organizations that promote global health and wholeness from a Christian perspective (full disclosure: I am a board member of CCIH). “When family planning was seen as a tool for old-style versions of population control, it was harder to marshal Christian support.” 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Breastfeeding becomes controversial again even through breast is still best

A woman breastfeeds her child while waiting for health services outside a health center in Nampula, Mozambique.  Copyright 2017 Arturo Sanabria, Courtesty of Photoshare

This was originally published on Sept. 25, 2018 on Global lHealth TV.

Breastfeeding — one of the most documented and proven best practices in global health — has become controversial again.

In the mid-1970s, Swiss-based Nestlé corporation was accused of unethical methods of marketing infant formula over breast milk to poor mothers in developing countries. Legal challenges to these practices by Nestlé and other companies led to a boycott of Nestlé. This led to the 34thWorld Health Assembly adopting an International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes in 1981. Three years later, Nestlé agreed to the code, and the boycott ended.

In May, the U.S. delegation to the World Health Assembly shocked other delegates when they tried to water down a resolution to promote breastfeeding and limit misleading marketing of infant formula. When that failed, according to The New York Times, they threatened Ecuador, the sponsor of the resolution, with trade sanctions and withdrawal of military aid. Russia introduced a similar measure and it was ultimately approved in a slightly altered form that was supported by the U.S. The U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, Todd Chapman, later called reports that the U.S. threatened Ecuador “patently false and inaccurate.”