IBFAN STATEMENTS FOR WHA 75
Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition and Food Safety Agenda Item 18.1 read by Elisabeth Sterken
Over 800,000 babies die every year because of unsafe feeding, and many more do not reach their full potential because they are not breastfed. This year four WHO reports show that too many of the 144 countries with Code legislation have serious loopholes allowing predatory marketing to flourish.
It’s time that exporting nations take responsibility for the marketing activities of their companies. WHO, the parent of Codex, must defend Assembly decisions, as amended by Bangladesh, against challenges by those pushing unnecessary, sweetened, flavoured ultra-processed products. The forthcoming decisions at Codex will fundamentally affect child health and survival
The undermining of breastfeeding using digital marketing, deceptive claims and cross promotion must be eliminated. Mandatory paid maternity leave, effective and independent food safety systems and baby-friendly birthing practices are essential to reduce illness and death associated with formula feeding
NCDs and Humanitarian emergencies. Agenda item 14.1. A75/10 Add 2, Annex 4 read by Patti Rundall
Recommendations on how to strengthen the design and implementation of policies, including those for resilient health systems and health services and infrastructure, to treat people living with noncommunicable diseases and to prevent and control their risk factors in humanitarian emergencies
The recommendations on NCD risk factors in humanitarian emergencies rightly calls for strengthened policies and services but also calls for partnerships with the private sector – with NO mention of the need for conflicts of interest safeguards – nor any mention of the protection of breastfeeding – a resilient practice that protects children from the worst of emergency conditions.
Safeguards must be consistently integrated into ALL policies to ensure that partnerships are appropriate and that policy setting is not commercially influenced.
When talking about health harming industries terms such as ‘partnership’ ’trust’ ‘shared aims’ and ‘values’ is naive. It blurs identities and responsibilities. Corporations have no democratic accountability and public health policy decisions should be free of their influence.
In times of crisis, companies mislead and exploit public fears, donating inappropriate products that claim to build immunity – good that WHO supports the statement warning of the risks of formula donations in Ukraine.
Public Health Emergencies. Agenda Item 16.3 Read by Dr Magdalena Whoolery
Breastfeeding is a resilient practice that provides food, care, immune support and protection from the worst of emergency conditions while protecting against malnutrition in all its forms. Breastfeeding and conflict of interest safeguards must be consistently integrated into all Emergency Prevention & Management policies.
As poverty rates, economic disparity, conflicts and hunger are rising, short term treatment models that rely on market-led approaches and fail to recognise how companies undermine health and the environment pose serious risks to child health. Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods should not be on retail sale and should be used only in programmes that promote skin-to-skin, re-lactation and continuation of breastfeeding with appropriate transition to nutritious family food and psycho-social support. Micronutrient interventions should be culturally appropriate and not undermine sustainable food production, food security and biodiversity.
We are pleased that WHO endorsed the joint statement on Ukraine led by UNICEF and UNHC warning of the risks of donations of baby feeding products.
Baby Milk Action’s Patti Rundall welcomes the increase in Assessed Contributions then asks WHO about its Conflict of Interest policy that only excludes arms and tobacco rather than all health harming industries. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus responds by saying ‘What she said is true by the way …”
The IBFAN team this year is small: Elisabeth Sterken (IBFAN Canada) Ellie MacGregor (IBFAN USA/ALPP) and Magdalena Whoolery (IBFAN Pakistan). Maryse Arendt will also join from ILCA. We are promoting the four new WHO reports and briefings (1) that all show that marketing in many countries is out of control and that strong safeguards are needed.
Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) and Food Safety (Agenda item 18, FRIDAY 27th May)
The International Code, and its 20 Resolutions, is a landmark document that protects breastfeeding’s crucial role in child survival as a safe, renewable natural food resource that contributes to food and water security. All Member States have an obligation to implement it and commercial companies must comply with it.
While 144 countries have implemented the Code to some degree, WHO’s recent reports expose many loopholes that allow digital and other forms of predatory marketing to flourish (1).
The Decision EB150 (7) at present, only requests the DG to provide Guidance to MSs on digital marketing and to report back in 2024. This year WHO has published four new reports and briefings that all show the importance of strong marketing safeguards. (1)
The Director General can be asked to:
(1) Assist MS in ensuring that trading and export standards, guidelines and regulations support full implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (i.e. “the Code) and subsequent WHA Resolutions. (2) Rationale: This would help MS hold companies’ accountable for marketing practices in importing countries.
(2) Assist MS to prohibit the promotion of cross branded products that function as breastmilk substitutes within The Codex Alimentarius revision of the draft standard for Follow-up Formula. (2) Rationale: these products are unnecessary, ultra-processed, sweet-tasting and flavoured.
(3) Assist MS in adopting legal frameworks that cover all foods for infants and young children and related products, including commercial milk formulas for pregnant and lactating mohters. (A useful example is the WHO Model Law for Europe)
(4) Assist MS in keeping policy setting free from commercial influence by consistently adopting and applying conflict of interest and transparency safeguards. Rationale: With the pressure to work in Multi-Stakeholder environments WHO must consistently warn and encourage Member States to adopt and apply such safeguards.
(5) Assist MS in ensuring effective independent food safety regulations and standardized monitoring and enforcement for all feeding products for infants and young children.
(6) Assist MS in ensuring compliance with the WHO UNICEF Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.
On Emergencies we will call for increased protection and support for breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact and relactation; ensure that micronutrient and other interventions during emergencies are culturally appropriate and not commercially promoted, to support sustainable food production, food security and biodiversity. We will also promote the UNICEF led Ukraine statement that is now endorsed by WHO, UNHCR and many others.
(1)The 8 Country Marketing report. Report on Digital Marketing and The 2022 State of the Code report – Effective regulatory Frameworks for ending inappropriate marketing of BMS and baby foods in the WHO European Region
 The 1992 Export Directive (92/52/EEC) and Council Resolution called for Code compliance by EU Based companies when marketing in ‘third countries’ along with monitoring and reporting and accountability proposals. The Codex CODE OF ETHICS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN FOOD requires Member States to “…make sure that the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes and relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly (WHA) setting forth principles for the protection and promotion of breastfeeding be observed.”
Informal list of intergovernmental meetings streamed on the following website: – https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/04/11/default-calendar/informal-wha75-pre-meeting-for-member-states–non-state-actors-in-official-relations-and-the-secretariat-during-11-april-to-6-may-2022
Non State Actors in Official Relations (such as IBFAN) can listen and intervene on some of these meetings. On the Working Group on Emergency Preparedness (WGPR Intersessional Informal Meeting (Systems and Tools / Finance) on 24th March, I made the following intervention:
IBFAN – like all public interest civil society – supports the call from Germany for a long overdue increase in Member States contributions to WHO. This is important for so many reasons, but essential if WHO is to continue to lead in emergency preparedness and response. Without such secure income and in the absence of strong safeguards on COI there are huge risks. IBFAN is especially concerned about the need to protect infant and young child feeding and of course breastfeeding – a lifeline in emergencies. We see now that appeals and funds are being attracted to the WHO Foundation and we’re very, very concerned about this and feel that its policy must be strengthened and donors carefully screened. The Foundation has recently dropped an exclusion criteria from its initial guidance guidelines that would have forced it to reject funding from companies that do not contribute to “a healthy diet.” And its messages have failed to follow WHO policy and alert the public to the risks of donations of feeding products.
Articles about WHO Funding
Report issued by a team around Jonathan Glennie based on research funded by the BMGF, adapting Glennie’s “global public investment” proposal (The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment) narrative to the field of financing pandemic preparedness and response
South Centre Research Paper No. 147 (28 February 2022): Can Negotiations at the World Health Organization Lead to a Just Framework for the Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Pandemics as Global Public Goods?
By Viviana Muñoz Tellez This paper advances that WHO Member States, having agreed to the objectives of advancing equity and solidarity for future pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, now must operationalize these. The paper offers suggestions for the ongoing WHO processes of: 1) review of recommendations under examination by the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies, 2) consideration of potential amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, and 3) elaboration of a draft text for an international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response.
Elaine Ruth Fletcher, Health Policy Watch: “United States Fast Tracks Proposal to Change WHO Rules on International Health Emergency Response” https://healthpolicy-watch.news/united-states-fast-tracks-world-health-assembly-proposal-to-change-global-emergency-response-rules/
Human Rights Principles for a Pandemic Treaty
Ongoing publication project and informal working group convened by OSF
A final/full version of the “10 principles” is expected to be published by the end of March
Main messages: https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Pandemic-Treaty-Principles.pdf
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The politics of a WHO pandemic treaty in a disenchanted world
G2H2 research and advocacy project 2021.
Members of the Geneva Global Health Hub are currently exploring a follow-up action
Dear non-State actors in official relations,
Please find attached the draft concept note for the” Informal WHA75 pre-meetings for Member States, non-State actors in official relations and the Secretariat” to take place over 4 days during the period from 11 April to 6 May 2022. The informal meeting is organized as per the decision of the Executive Board at its 150th meeting. In developing the concept note, the comments and input from non-State actors who attended the planning meeting on 28 February on the concept and content for the meeting , have been considered.
The proposed dates and the agenda for the informal WHA75 premeeting are:
Monday 11 April 2022 at 10:00-13:00 CEST
Pillar 1: One billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
13.1 Follow-up to the political declaration of the third high-level meeting of the General Assembly on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases:
(a) Draft implementation road map 2023–2030 for the global action plan for the prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases 2013–2030
(d) Draft recommendations on how to strengthen the design and implementation of policies, including those for resilient health systems and health services and infrastructure, to treat people living with noncommunicable diseases and to prevent and control their risk factors in humanitarian emergencies
(h) Draft action plan (2022–2030) to effectively implement the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol as a public health priority
21 April 2022 at 15:30-18:30 CEST
Pillar 1: One billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage
- Human resources for health
Pillar 3: One billion more people enjoying better health and well-being
17.1 Maternal, infant and young child nutrition
3rd item TBD
28 April 2022 at 15:00-18:00 CEST
Pillar 2: Public health emergencies: preparedness and response
15.2 Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies
15.4 WHO’s work in health emergencies
Pillar 4: More effective and efficient WHO providing better support to countries
Thursday 6.5. at 10.00-11:00 CEST
Feedback on the meeting
The duration of each session is 3 hours, with 3 agenda items for discussion, and with expected participation as panel members from Member States, WHO Secretariat including regional offices and non-State actors in official relations. We would propose that non-State actor representative will moderate the sessions like last time. It is expected that panel members will be respond to questions from the audience and discuss with other panel members on the agenda item. The fourth session on 6 May is dedicated for a discussion on engagement modalities for non-State actors, and to a dialogue between non-State actors and the Director-General as well as giving a space for non-State actors to prepare for the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly (22 – 28 May 2022). Should you have any suggestions for the format or agenda items of the meeting or comments, especially for the 3rd agenda item on 21 April, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are calling for expressions of interest from non-State actors to be members of the panels as well as moderators of the panels in this meeting. Kindly indicate your interest to Taina Nakari at email@example.com by 27 March 2022. Please also let us know which session you are interested in to moderate or to be a panel member. Once all the proposals have been received, we will contact the panel members and moderators to finalize arrangements. Looking forward to working with you to shape the sessions.
Connection details and other practical arrangements will be sent ahead of the meeting.
Thanking in advance for your participation.
Dr Gaudenz Silberschmidt
Health and Multilateral Partnerships