Support the best nutrition for babies everywhere: Urge your U.S. Representatives to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding!

Are you aware that representatives from the U.S. sided with commercial infant formula industry interests at the expense of babies during the recent World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva?

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 4.48.44 PMU.S. officials at the meeting proposed the adoption of language that would have allowed this industry unrestricted ability to aggressively market breast milk substitutes as part of a WHA resolution on infant and young child feeding that included breastfeeding. Finally, the original wording of the resolution was mostly maintained. However, Ecuador had already been forced to withdraw its sponsorship of the resolution due to U.S. threats to withdraw military and commercial support if they didn’t, instilling fear in all other smaller countries of similar retaliation from the U.S. that may persist into the future. Russia stepped up at the end to sponsor the resolution because they said they support breastfeeding!

Support the best nutrition for babies everywhere.

Urge your U.S. Representatives to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding!

Act now by calling or writing your U.S. Representatives. Need the contact information for your representatives?

The issue and the circumstances are well articulated by two articles found in News Deeply and The New York Times.

For more information about IH Section’s Policy and Advocacy Committee activities, contact:
Kevin Sykes, PhD, MPH and Elizabeth Holguin, MPH, MSN, FNP-BC
APHA, International Health Section Policy and Advocacy Committee Co-Chairs



US opposition to UN breastfeeding resolution defies evidence and public health practice

Statement from Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director, American Public Health Association

Washington, D.C., July 9, 2018 – “We are stunned by reports of U.S. opposition to a resolution at the World Health Assembly this spring aimed at promoting breastfeeding. According to news stories, U.S. officials attempted to block a resolution encouraging breastfeeding and warning against misleading marketing by infant formula manufacturers.

“Fortunately, the resolution was adopted with few changes, but it is unconscionable for the U.S. or other government to oppose efforts that promote breastfeeding. The consequences of low rates of breastfeeding are even greater for the health of children in resource-poor countries.

“Breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective interventions for improving maternal and child health. Breastfeeding provides the best source of infant nutrition and immunologic protection. Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight and obese, and have fewer infections and improved survival during their first year of life. Breastfed infants often need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations. In addition maternal bonding is increased, a benefit to both mother and child.

“The scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports breastfeeding and its many health benefits for both child and mother. The American Public Health Association has long supported exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding through at least the first year of life. APHA also strongly supports policies that encourage breastfeeding at home, maternity hospitals and birth centers and the workplace, and help identify women most in need of support of breastfeeding practices.

“In cases where mothers are unable to breastfeed, there are evidence-based solutions to protect the mom and ensure the baby thrives. The solution to malnutrition and poverty is not infant formula, but improved economic development and access to domestic and international nutrition and food programs.”


APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Learn more at

Attention IH Student Members: Two Interim Student Leadership Opportunities Available; Deadline to apply 7/13

We currently have two student leadership opportunities! The deadline is Friday, July 13th for interested students to submit a response to this opportunity. Submission details below.

Two Interim Student Leadership Opportunities:

The APHA IH Section Leadership is writing to share a short-term opportunity: our appointed IH Student Committee leaders have had to step down for personal reasons and the IH Section is very interested in recruiting two interim, Acting Co-Chairs of the IH Student Committee.

The purpose of the IH Student Committee is to support and coordinate the efforts of the IH Section to reach out to students and early career professionals interested in careers in international and global health and to facilitate their engagement in IH Section activities. The committee chair is appointed by the IH Section Chair.  Other IH Section student members representing a cross-section of schools of public health, medical schools, and young professionals can be appointed by the committee and IH Section Chair.

Responsibilities of these two positions are not overwhelming, and include the following:

–          Attending IH Section leadership conference call meetings, in order to represent student interests and serve student’s needs with an official voice on leadership meetings (one hour the fourth Thursday of every month)

  • Identifying opportunities to link student members to our standing IH Section committee and working groups in order to develop future leadership for the IH Section
  • Helping to recruit students to take advantage of these identified opportunities
  • Organizing and leading the IH Student Committee meeting at the Annual Meeting, in order to ensure sustainability of IH Student Committee efforts and initiatives
  • As needed /as interested, recruiting a small team of other IH student members to plan and organize any activities of the IH Student Committee throughout the year

The IH Student Committee is formally described in the IH Section Manual, with some additional functions that we will share during a simple orientation for the selected Interim Acting Co-Chairs of the IH Student Committee.

Length of commitment:

These interim positions are a commitment from time of selection (anticipated July or August this summer) through the November 2018 annual meeting. The IH Student Committee traditionally selects new co-chairs and other committee leaders in person at the annual meeting. The Interim Acting Co-Chairs will have the option to submit their names to the IH Student Committee leader selection process for the coming year.

Applicants should be current members and should be planning to attend the Annual Meeting in San Diego this coming November 2018, where they will chair the meeting at which the new IH Student Committee leaders will be selected, to begin serving as of the end of the 2018 Annual Meeting.

Monthly level of effort of commitment:

Effective incumbents for the IH Student Committee co-chair positions have found that this responsibility requires a range of 2-6 hours per month, including participation on the monthly, one-hour IH Section Leadership calls, as well as emails and personal communication with other leaders of the IH Student Committee and full leadership body, as needed to direct and implement activities and initiatives the IH Student Committee may have undertaken.

Instructions to submit your name:

Interested candidates will please email Mary Carol Jennings (current Section Secretary, and Jay Nepal (current co-chair of IH Section Membership Committee, with a very short statement (<200 words) describing your leadership experience and your personal career and networking goals in the field of international health, as well as one concrete accomplishment you would like to undertake in the position of interim co-chair of the IH Student Committee.

Include your phone number and email so that we can contact you if your candidacy is short-listed for this opportunity. 

Deadline for applications: Friday July 13

Separating parents and children at US border is inhumane and sets the stage for a public health crisis

Statement from the American Public Health Association and Trust for America’s Health

Washington, D.C., June 15, 2018

“The Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border will have a dire impact on their health, both now and into the future.

“As public health professionals we know that children living without their parents face immediate and long-term health consequences. Risks include the acute mental trauma of separation, the loss of critical health information that only parents would know about their children’s health status, and in the case of breastfeeding children, the significant loss of maternal child bonding essential for normal development. Parents’ health would also be affected by this unjust separation.

“More alarming is the interruption of these children’s chance at achieving a stable childhood. Decades of public health research have shown that family structure, stability and environment are key social determinants of a child’s and a community’s health.

“Furthermore, this practice places children at heightened risk of experiencing adverse childhood events and trauma, which research has definitively linked to poorer long-term health. Negative outcomes associated with adverse childhood events include some of society’s most intractable health issues: alcoholism, substance misuse, depression, suicide, poor physical health and obesity.

“There is no law requiring the separation of parents and children at the border. This policy violates fundamental human rights. We urge the administration to immediately stop the practice of separating immigrant children and parents and ensure those who have been separated are rapidly reunited, to ensure the health and well-being of these children.”


APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization influence federal policy, has a nearly 150-year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit us at

Mid-Year Message from Our Chair

Dear International Health (IH) Section members,

At the half-year mark since our 2017 annual meeting in Atlanta, I hope this finds you well and starting plans to attend the 2018 annual meeting in San Diego.  Registration and Housing open on June 4!  Also – please vote for new IH Section leaders – online voting opens any day now!

First, a quick note to summarize global health news from Washington this year.  Despite the Administration request for a one-third reduction for foreign assistance in the federal FY2018 budget proposal (which was not taken to a vote until well into 2018), Congress decided to continue funding at nearly the same level as for FY2017.  For the FY2019 foreign assistance budget, we again face the same 30% reduction request from the Administration which would take effect on Oct. 1, 2018.  Please plan to call your congressional representatives to state your opinion when this comes up for a vote in Congress!

As for IH Section business, we have several new initiatives this year with the objective to improve involvement of global health professionals in our Section.   These initiatives have evolved through active discussions among IH Section leaders in our standing and ad-hoc committees since the last annual meeting.  These are:

(1)   A new program to provide Travel Scholarships to eligible IH members in the category of Early Career Professionals (ECPs).  Winners of the scholarships will be the top-ranked abstracts submitted to the IH Section, based on scoring by blinded reviewers.   Section Council members will coordinate special recognition for scholarship winners at the annual meeting.  The purpose of this program is to promote submission of high quality abstracts by ECP members and to help defray costs of their attendance at the annual meeting for presentation of their work.

(2)   A new Young Professional Award for an outstanding IH Section member who is under 30 years of age.  The awardee will be someone who has shown special initiative in global health.   Nominees must be IH Section members.   Our Awards Committee, in charge of nominations and voting, will recognize the 2018 winner of this new award at the IH Awards Ceremony and Reception in San Diego on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.      Other IH awards given annually are the Carl E. Taylor Lifetime Achievement Award, the Mid-Career Award, the Gordon-Wyon Award for Community-Oriented Public Health, Epidemiology and Practice, and the IH Section Distinguished Service Award.

(3)   A renewal from past years of regional Mid-year Meet-ups, organized for the benefit of Section members in various cities across the U.S.  The successful Washington DC meet-up in April, co-sponsored with the Global Health Council, was held at APHA headquarters.  A San Francisco gathering will be held in June for IH members in conjunction with the Public Health Institute.  Many thanks to event organizers Jessica Keralis (DC), Jean Armas (SF), Theresa Majeski (LA), and Brianne Riggins-Pathak (Albuquerque).

San Diego promises to provide us again with a great opportunity for learning, networking, and reconnecting with old friends. Our volunteer section members have been actively organizing the hundreds of details for the annual meeting. Just a few highlights on the upcoming meeting:

(1)   Our active IH Program Committee handled 473 scientific abstracts that were submitted to IH by February of this year and were evaluated online by 181 volunteer reviewers.  Abstract acceptances for presentation in San Diego have been announced.

(2)   Our IH Policy Committee fielded the review and editing of a good number of policy statement proposals developed by our Section members, some jointly with other sections.  Proposals that successfully transit the APHA Joint Policy Committee (JPC) review and are approved by vote of the Governing Council at the annual meeting will become official policy of APHA!

(3)   Our Community-Based Primary Health Care Working Group is preparing their annual pre-conference in San Diego with the theme this year, Community Health Workers, in a collaborative effort with the APHA Community Health Worker (CHW) Section.  You can soon register to attend this workshop (all day Saturday and half-day Sunday) on November 10-11, 2018.

(4)   A special presentation is planned to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Declaration of Alma Alta on Primary Health Care!

Please connect to us through (the [Unofficial] Home of APHA’s International Health Section) where you can sign up to receive IH Connect by email and link to our other social media via Facebook and Twitter for job postings and items of interest, as well as receive our excellent Global Health Connections Newsletter with features on IH members and section leaders.

As always, we hope that you are able to seek out and discover ways in which you can engage with your professional association, APHA, as an International Health Section (IH) member.  Your feedback is always welcomed.

Best regards,
Laura C. Altobelli, DrPH, MPH
Chair, International Health Section
American Public Health Association