Gerson da Cunha A few weeks after Peter died – on 7th January  – we got the news that  one of Peter’s friends, Gerson da Cunha had died.  Gerson was an Indian/Goan high level communicator, who worked for UNICEF Brasil in early 80´s and with Peter’s support helped build social mobilization actions around breastfeeding. He was behind some of the amazing initiatives such as postmen and firemen promoting breastfeeding,  short breastfeeding messages on every bank receipt etc   Gerson received a medal of recognition for his work during the third World Breastfeeding Conference (WBC3) in Rio.   Here’s a picture I took when we all had lunch together at the British Library in London – I think this was in 2000.  

You can see Gerson explaining this work in this short film shown at IBFAN’s World Breastfeeding Conference in Brazil November 2019

Guardian Obituary for Peter Greaves by Neville Grant 31st January 2022

Click Here for story on Pelé



Film clip of Peter Greaves 2000

We were saddened to hear about the sudden death of one of Baby Milk Action’s  long-time advisors, Peter Greaves. He was to be 90 in March but showed no signs of slowing down or aging when he died on 16th December 2021 after a sudden illness. We feel his loss hugely.

He is survived by his wife Chloe, son Tim, daughter Kate, daughter-in-law Noreen, son-in-law Mitch and grandchildren Ciara, Conor, Tim & Ben. The funeral service was held on Jan 5th 2022. (see  Zoom link Meeting ID: 845 4716 3680   Passcode: 238974– )  Below are some of the tributes that explain a little of why he was so loved and respected. Please email me on if you would like to add something.


Peter’s wide-ranging interests – from Rwanda to nutrition to breastfeeding to the environment  – were rooted in his passion for human rights and social justice. As Regina Shrimpton says, he was ‘always on the cusp of humanity’s events’ and ready to do whatever he could to help.  But he was also a wonderful friend, full of humour and joy about all the things that really matter.

As Peter Adamson says, Peter recognised long before many others that a handful of low-cost interventions including immunisation, oral rehydration and breastfeeding could prevent or treat a significant proportion of deaths among the world’s children – as a result Baby Milk Action and IBFAN enjoyed decades of Peter’s support as advisor, supporter, networker, proof-reader and campaigner. Peter’s impact on our campaign was invariably behind the scenes but hugely effective, not least because he understood that misleading and predatory marketing has to be stopped.

To give just two of many examples. Peter was one of the 1990 Innocenti Team that formulated global initiatives to improve breastfeeding practices in maternity policies and practices – and it was his idea to distill the recommendations into Ten Steps.  The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding  became the basis for the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and continues to be the  global standard that helped transform maternity care. (see Margaret Kyenkya’s tribute below for more).

Peter was UNICEF’s nutrition advisor in New York in 1991 when the General Synod of the Church of England voted to endorse the Boycott, and his advice to Synod Member Dr Susan Cole-King, was key to an almost unanimous vote in favour.  Thank you Peter.  I know my writings will be  poorer without your oversight!

Here is a link to a letter that Peter wrote in support of one of our campaigns last year: www.babymilkacti


Margaret Kyenkya-Isabitye   The news of Dr. Peter Greaves passing on hit me really hard because I have not spoken with him in a long time. I kept putting it off… and now I wonder whether he knew how appreciated he was as that “diplomat,” as the girls in the nutrition section called him, the counsellor, to whom each of us ran to when the tough got going, the real backbone, the glue, that held the Nutrition Section at UNICEF HQ together during the 7 years I was there (1987-1994). He was the guy that took on the tough issues, the one who originated, edited every document that we produced., putting jnto proper english everything team members wrote. Do people know that when the bickering WHO and UNICEF team spent a whole day and night trying, and failing to come up with the Innocenti Declaration for Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding (1990),  Peter took on the task, prepared a draft in 2 hours, cleared the language with UNICEF team, and I watched in awe, as he proceeded to calmly and diplomatically get all the bickering parties to sign off on the document that was finally printed. And he smiled and told stories through it all. His intellect, honesty, kindness, all with a humble approach was a gift to all of us. As a supervisor, he set really high standards for me, and yet proceeded to teach me to reach them.   Till we meet again Peter.

Sir Richard Jolly, former  Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, deputy executive director of UNICEF and Coordinator of the UNDP’s Human Development ReportSad, sad news. Peter was wonderfully committed, engaged and active almost to the end, urging us on with emails and other up-to-date encouragements, long after he did the same in UNICEF. Please gently express deep sympathies to Chloe. Her loss will be great.  And in answer to Linda Melvern:  You are so right about Peter and about his strong support for you and your outspoken writings about Rwanda. He was not afraid to be full out for causes he believed in.  He will be sorely missed.

Kul Chandra Gautam, former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations: So very sad to learn about the passing of Peter Greaves. He was a teacher and mentor to many of us on matters of nutrition. I admired his principled and uncompromising commitment to breastfeeding while some others were swayed by the deceptive but powerful lobbying by the infant formula companies.  Beyond nutrition, Peter proved to be a very effective leader on the broader child survival and development front, particularly during his tenure as UNICEF Representative in Brazil. He continued his quiet activism in support of nutrition and breastfeeding even after his retirement from UNICEF.  My sincere condolences to Peter’s family.   May Peter’s soul rest in eternal peace.

Peter Adamson: Author of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children, Facts for Life, New Internationalist etc.  Very sad news. Peter was a lovely man with an unusual combination of unselfish modesty, quiet intelligence, enduring commitment to social and economic justice and an unfailing interest in others. I don’t know how well known this is, but Peter talked, and perhaps wrote, about how a handful of available and low-cost interventions including immunisation, oral rehydration and breast-feeding could prevent or treat a very significant proportion of illnesses and deaths among the world’s children – and this was some time before the days when Jim Grant and colleagues took that insight to such great heights. Peter stayed in touch after he retired and always showed a generous interest in whatever work or writing I was doing – even attending an Oxford book where I was delighted to see him again. Truly, a life well spent. Condolences and best wishes to Peter’s friends and family. Peter Adamson
Linda Melvern  I too find the news of Peter’s death shocking and hard to believe. Peter was my staunchest champion. His support for my work on the United Nations and the genocide in Rwanda was unwavering. He was my most loyal,  and my best friend. A man of integrity, his was the wisest council. Peter was the kindest person imaginable. He is irreplaceable. My heart goes out to Chloe, to Tim and Kate.
Dan Toole I read the sad news of Peter’s passing and want to extend my sincere condolences. I worked closely with Peter in my first 10 years in UNICEF and we stayed in touch off and on when I sometimes passed through London. I remember him so well, his humor, his wisdom, his experience and knowledge of all things in nutrition (we were together in the Nutrition Section in the late 80s-early 90s) and his direct support to me as UNICEF Rep in Rwanda after the genocide there. We have lost a staunch believer in the good that drives people, a crusader against the bad and even evil in this world and a strong spokesman and friend of children, the poor and the forgotten of this world. Peter lived and demonstrated that there is always more that unites us all than that separates us. Peter also stood up for me very early in my UNICEF career, pushing back against many who visibly changed their views with shifting winds and leadership views. That was a lesson I kept with me across my years in the field and in HQ — and through that memory, I tried to live up to his example.  I also know from my own life that at times of great loss, words from others do not help much – pain and loss are deep. Please just know that I am thinking of you all, sending my prayers, condolences and energy to get through these difficult days, weeks and months ahead.  With warm regards.  Dan Toole
Ted Greiner, Editor, World Nutrition. Peter was head of nutrition at UNICEF in the late 1980s when I first began attending the UN System Standing Committee on Nutrition (now “reformed” out of existence at the insistence of the UN agencies controlled by the USA). He was a wise and kind man, and a supporter of World Nutrition, for which he wrote a review. Here you can read about him, his life, and all the love people in our field felt for him.
Tom McDermott
Dear Mr. Greaves, We do not know each other but I did know your father well through his work with UNICEF.  I was terribly sorry to learn this morning that he passed away a few days ago.  He was a wonderful man who contributed so much to international development work and to young child nutrition throughout the world. I am one of the editors of the newsletter we maintain to keep the community of former UNICEF employees in touch.  Your father contributed articles often and commented on those by others.  He also offered us some very good practical advice.  My last exchange of emails with him was just a couple of weeks ago on December 5th.   His most recent article appeared in our December 2021 Quarterly.  You can find the article here.   Please pass on to the other members of your family our condolences and the deep sympathy I and the entire former UNICEF community feel at this moment.  We pray that God will grant him peace, and will comfort all of you in this time of grief and mourning.

Anthony Kennedy: Dear Kul, Though your news is not welcome in the cheery sense, I appreciate and thank you for informing me. I can still call to mind meeting Peter and Chloe Greaves. I happened to be in New Delhi and they had just arrived at the UNICEF office on Jor Bagh, where Peter had just arrived to start his first day with UNICEF in India. We became friends, though long distance friends, and nourished that friendship whenever we were in the same place at the same time. Peter was committed, effective and dogged in his promotion of child nutrition. I recall an anecdote told to me at second hand of Peter’s florid face while on a field trip in India and in the midst of a group of desperately malnourished children, he had to explain the difference between marasmus and kwashiorkor to a local health official.  Peter was yet another terrific UNICEF colleague.  Tony

Gabrielle Palmer: I can only echo everything that has been said already. Peter was a steadfast friend and supporter of all righteous causes.   He was exceptional in that he could give guidance in a uniquely subtle way. He was never pompous and always modest. I learned so much from him. He critiqued and proof read some of my stuff in the most supportive way. He would tell me about what other friends were doing and how I would love their books, and he was right. His lovely low key natural style was so refreshing. I loved getting his emails and occasional phone calls. His enthusiasm for Greta Thunberg  and the environmental movement was so refreshing when many of his peers were grumbling.  I feel privileged to have known him and will miss him dreadfully as all of you must do.

John Donohue Learning of Peter’s passing brought back memories of the many times our paths crossed over the years. Peter was a truly lovely man with amazing professional competence who always focused on improving the nutrition of children who needed help.   And was  always an erudite joy to work with.  Rosa and I wish Chloe and her family our condolences and um abraco forte.

Jon Rohde Peter was a bulwark in Unicef and beyond. His humour and wisdom live in so many of us who’s lives he influenced. Missing him. Jon

Baquer Namazi. I am a former colleague and friend and was very saddened to learn about [Peter’s] passing away. When I returned to UNICEF in 1984, based on my experience in my own country, I was trying hard to promote the cause of nomadic tribes, one of the major deprived and neglected groups. Peter was one of the first persons who took my work seriously, helped raised seed funding from the JNSP programme he was promoting and helped in editing my communications with potential partners.  I am reminded of the following saying shared with me by one of my Christian teachers. He said: IF DEATH IS A SORROW FOR US, THE HOPE OF A BETTER LIFE IS OUR CONSOLATION. May Peter’s soul rest in eternal peace and may the Almighty bestow strength and fortitude upon both of you dear ones to bear his loss.

Regina Shrimpton 
I remember Peter as the UNICEF representative who decided  Roger was worthy of his first contract with UNICEF in 1983, to develop a primary health care plan to tackle the appalling infant mortality rate in the poorest Brazilian state, Maranhão.  The project was eventually  implemented, and after a year there was a reduction of 33% in infant mortality.  The program expanded into several other Brazilian states and, eventually, became a joint program shared by the central Brazilian government and UNICEF. That, in itself, showed Peter’s vision and willingness to act, even though his stay in Brazil was short-lived. As our paths diverged, we met sporadically through the years:  New York, Jakarta, London.  He met Roger more often at international professional gatherings. Peter was  always a pleasure:  courteous, erudite, always willing to help, and, with a glass in his hand, humorous with his stories from distant shores. We met for the last time for Sunday lunch in London, where he mentioned he had shifted his greatest interest to climate change.  He was always on the cusp of humanity’s  events and, again, he showed us the way.   It was a privilege to meet Peter and we’ll keep memories of him in our hearts. Will be thinking of you and wishing you strength at this difficult time.

Elisabeth Sterken IBFAN Canada:  Dear Patti –  you and all of us will miss him as such a staunch supporter of breastfeeding protection and am remembering the support he gave us during WHAs. He will be remembered for all he has done over for the many years and the support he gave to our IBFAN work!
Ines fernandez, IBFAN Southeast Asia, the Philippines:  Prayers and sympathy for the bereaved family of Peter Greaves. I truly admired his commitment to IBFAN cause.He was one of our Code Heroes!
Leah Margulies: So sorry to hear this Patti. He was such a great supporter of what we were trying to accomplish oh so long ago.
Marcos Arana, IBFAN Mexico Very sad to learn that Peter Greaves has just passed away. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Annelies Allain, IBFAN Penang: Yes, we remember Peter Greaves very well.  Always supportive and quick to help.  All in IBFAN will remember him but you in UK will miss him most, Patti, Gay and others formerly at UNICEF.

Maryse Arendt. Luxembourg: Hello  This is a real loss! Gabrielle Palmer and Marina recommended that I interview him for a further Journal of Human Lactation interview but he declined, so there will be no published testimony about his important work for breastfeeding protection!

Alison Linnecar, Convenor, IBFAN’s contaminant WG  We have indeed lost another Code Hero and this year it has been tough to learn of the passing of so many stalwarts who supported IBFAN and the Code in so many ways.  I know how Peter was always there for Patti and Gay and BMA as adviser and counsellor. But he seemed to be part of all our efforts, and I remember his discreet but imposing presence in the major struggles to keep the baby food industry out of the  BFHI and the Global Strategy.  With my deepest sympathy to his family and all his friends in IBFAN,
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