PGMA honors late US Senator Kennedy for pivotal role in breastfeeding

August 27, 2009 11:45 am 

MANILA, Aug. 27 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today honored the contribution of the late United States Senator Edward Kennedy for his pivotal role in the global breastfeeding movement.

Kennedy, a longtime US advocate of health reform, died on August 25 after battling brain cancer for more than a year.

Speaking at the celebration of the World Breast Feeding Awareness Month at Heroes Hall in Malacañang, President Arroyo said the government is presenting Kennedy’s family with the Presidential Award of the Ancient Order of Lakandula, Grand Collar, Rank of Supremo, for his crucial role in initiating the passage of an international code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes.

She appointed Dr. Elvira L. Henares-Esguerra, ambassador of goodwill for Infant and Young Child Feeding, as special envoy to present the public health component of the award to the Kennedy family. She ordered Presidential Adviser Heherson Alvarez to present the human rights component of the citation.

“It is in this role that he served the Philippines and the world, when he chaired a US Subcommittee on Health to hear the testimony of a Filipino doctor, Dr. Natividad R. Clavano, who presented a 10,000-baby study conducted by Baguio General Hospital, which showed a 95 percent decrease in infant mortality and morbidity as the result of exclusive breastfeeding,” the President said.

She added that with the testimony of Clavano and related findings, Kennedy challenged the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1979 to do something about the issue. Two years later, WHO formulated the International Code on the Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and Other Related Products.

The President also tapped Esguerra to present the Presidential Award, Order of the Golden Cross, to United Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Programme Director Dr. Nicholas Alipui for his “role in promoting breastfeeding in our country.” (PNA)

LAP/OPS/ssc

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