My colleague, Patti Rundall, has written an obituary for this inspiring campaigner from the Philippines.
A version of the obituary also appears in today's Guardian newspaper. See:
The following appears in our forthcoming Update newsletter, which will be sent to all Baby Milk Action members shortly. Click here to join Baby Milk Action.
Dr Clavano - tiny woman who moved mountains
“We allowed the companies to touch the lives of our babies, not because we did not care, but because we did not realise the consequences of granting such a privilege. How to change all that? How to break the ‘friendly’ stranglehold that we had allowed the milk companies to have on our hospital? We closed the door of the nursery to the milk companies. We stopped giving our babies the starter dose of infant formula. Down came the colourful posters and calendars; in their place we hung the “baby killer’ posters which show an emaciated baby inside a dirty feeding bottle.”
IBFANers marked the death on October 4th of Dr. Natividad Relucio Clavano, Chief of Paediatrics, Baguio General Hospital, the Philippines. Natividad’s 10,000 baby study (which Nestlé tried to suppress) demonstrated the damaging impact that western medical practices can have on breastfeeding and child survival and gave foundation to the global movement that followed.
Her life took a dramatic turn in 1974 when she came to the UK to take Post-Graduate Studies in Pediatrics at the Institute of Child Health, London University. Initially keen to learn about asthma, she studied under Baby Milk Action Advisor, Prof David Morley. She returned home armed with practical information about how to change hospital practices and prejudices about infant feeding. Her changes resulted in an increase of breastfeeding rates from 40% to 87%, a 94% reduction in the rates of diarrhoea and a 95% reduction in the rates of infant death.
She spoke in Washington at the 1978 US Senate Inquiry under Senator Ted Kennedy which led to the Code and in 2005 at the Philippine Senate in support of the Department of Health. We send our love to her husband and sons.
You can find a transcript of Dr Clavano's testimony to the Senate Hearing on our website, in our analysis of an article Nestlé is using to misrepresent the history of the campaign and its current practices. See:
It is important that we do not forget what really happened, or those who have taken principled stands against corporate malpractice. They give us strength to continue.
See the link to my blog entries on the Philippines for the unfolding story of the recent battle just won to protect infants and mothers from the latest challenge by the industry.