“Imagine that the world had created a new ‘dream product’ to feed and immunize everyone born on earth. Imagine also that it was available everywhere, required no storage or delivery, and helped mothers plan their families and reduce the risk of cancer. Then imagine that the world refused to use it.”
This quote is attributed to Dr. Frank Oski, a specialist in blood diseases and cancer in children. He served for 10 years as head of the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. During his years as director, from 1985 to 1995, he served as senior editor of the textbook Principles and Practices of Pediatrics. He died on Dec. 7, 1996 at his home in Baltimore at the age of 64. Dr. Oski was a strong advocate of children’s health care. As an expert in childhood blood disorders and nutritional deficiencies, he also campaigned against commercial promotions of cow’s milk as an alternative to mother’s milk for babies.
Now, 25 years later…
The United States delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva sought to remove language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breastfeeding.” The latest example of the government siding with corporate interests over public health issues.
Health care professionals must continue to speak up to support the optimal nutritional needs of infants, who can’t speak for themselves.
Thank you to the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nursing, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners for doing so.
JoAnne Silbert-Flagg, DNP, CRNP, IBCLC, FAAN, is assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. Her scholarship focuses on promoting breastfeeding from pregnancy through weaning via direct patient care and the education of health care professionals.