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    Unicef accused of forming alliance with baby food industry.

    Yamey G

    BMJ. British Medical Journal. 2000 Jul 15; 321(7254):132.

    UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is about to form partnerships with companies that produce infant formula and that do not comply with the international code of marketing of breast milk substitutes, it was claimed this week. Two UNICEF employees have resigned in protest, and others are expected to tender their resignations. A document written by a UNICEF employee, who does not wish to be named, states that “decisions have been taken at UNICEF's top level to make alliances with pharmaceutical companies... which market their breast milk substitutes in disregard [of the code]”. UNICEF has previously refused to accept funding from the baby food industry, and it has supported breast-feeding advocacy groups in the developing world. A new partnership with industry would add to the growing concern among infant feeding specialists that international health agencies, including the WHO, are going too far in their dealings with the private sector. The International Baby Food Network commented: “There is a need for UNICEF to protect its status as a truly independent advocate for human rights and health for all, and to ensure that its policies, research priorities, and direction are not unduly influenced.” On 4 July, Carol Bellamy, executive director of UNICEF sent a memorandum to all UNICEF representatives, managers, and directors, which stated that UNICEF will “engage in dialogue with the private sector when it is clear that such an endeavor can contribute to the best interests of the child.” Michael Latham, professor of international nutrition at Cornell University in New York, said: “Carol Bellamy does not seem willing to state that UNICEF will not form partnerships with, nor accept funds from, corporations that violate the code.” (full text)
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