In Tribute to Dra. Natividad Clavano

I am lifting a work written by Patti Rundall from the ebabies coalition group that is written as follows. May the work and spirit of Dra. Clavano live in us all as advocates pushing for the primacy of breasfeeding .

– – – – –

Hello Patti and Innes,

The memoriam written by patti is both simple, straight forward and
most of all passionate in tribute to our dear Dra. Clavano.

Each of us have our own stories to tell on how she has been
instrumental in touching our lives. I met her way back 1985 when she
was the head of the infant and child health at BGH and she exuded a
raw energy of what she is known for all to be a fearless fighter
against milk companies. With my continued prayers for the repose of
her soul,

dr. Lester Lora, “Ma. Ines Fernandez”

Dear Patti,

On 10/8/07, Patti Rundall <prundall@…> wrote:
Many thanks for your help Ines, David and Felix
DRAFT: Obituary for Dr Natividad Clavano
Revolution in Perinatal care 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

Health campaigners around the globe are marking the death on
October 4th of Dr. Natividad Clavano, Chief of Paediatrics, Baguio General
Hospital, the Philippines who provided one of the important pillars of
research which demonstrated the damaging impact that western medical practices
can have on breastfeeding and child survival. Her work gave foundation to a
global movement which continues to save millions of lives across the globe.
Natividad was born in 1st October 1932 and graduated in Medicine
from the University of Sto. Tomas in 1957. Her life took a dramatic turn
when she came to London in 1974 to take Post-Graduate Studies in Pediatrics
at the Institute of Child Health, London University. Initially keen to
learn about

Asthma, she studied under Prof David Morley who opened her eyes to
the far more urgent problems facing the underprivileged in her country –
problems that were totally preventable. At that time the western medical
model had become standard in the Philippines and throughout much of the
developing world babies were routinely removed from their mothers at birth,
placed ina nursery and formula fed with supplies happily provided by the milk
companies. But by the time she arrived in London the consumer
protests about the practices causing this particular ‘commerciogenic
malnutrition’ had started. Morley and Ralph Hendrickse had given an interview in the New Internationalist, the War on Want report, The Baby Killer had been
translated into German as Nestle Kills Babies and this hadprompted Nestle
to sue for libel in Switzerland.
Natividad returned home armed with practical information about how to
change hospital practices and prejudices. She “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.”
When I met her in 1989, she stressed the need to retrain medical and
nursing staff many had not seen fully breastfed babies and mistook normal
breastfed stools for diarrheoa. Most importantly she also
documented the results of actions. Her 10,000 baby study of the babies born in

General Hospital between 1973 and 1977 (which a formula company
tried to suppress) showed that rooming in (keeping mothers and babies
together) and demand breastfeeding (rather than feeding to a rigid timetable)
increased breastfeeding rates from 40% to 87% and reduced the rates of
diarrhoea by94% and death by 95%.

Natividad – ‘a tiny woman who moved mountains’ – continued to campaign
against the formula giants. She spoke in Washington at the US Senate Inquiry
in 1978 under Senator Ted Kennedy, who publicly demanded that the
World Health Organization (WHO) do something about the aggressive
marketing. In 1981, three years later, the World Health Assembly adopted the
landmark in consumer protection, the International Code on the Marketing of
Breast-milk Substitutes and the International Baby Food Action (IBFAN) began
its work helping governments implement it. In 1986 President Corazon
Aquino signed into law the Philippine National Milk Code at the time one of
the toughest laws in Asia. In June this year George Monbiot wrote of the ongoing
struggle to close the loopholes in this law and stop the continuing
aggressive marketing. Natividad spoke at the Philippine Senate on
the Milk
Code Inquiry in 2005 and a decision by the Supreme Court is
expected very soon.

Natividad’s work also came to the attention of UNICEF’s Executive Director
Jim Grant, and contributed to the formation UNICEF’s Baby Friendly
Hospital Initiative, whose Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, an
initiative thatis transforming hospital practices in 192 countries. In 2006 she
receivedthe Order of the Golden Heart with rank of Commander from
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her pioneering work in the field of
pediatrics and infant feeding and for her Under-Five Clinic National Program.
In both the UK and the Philippines the level of commercial promotion of
bottle feeding is high and if we are to turn things around and put infant
health before the needs of industry we will need more health workers with the honesty and courage that Natividad showed.
Dr Clavano is survived by her husband Dodong, and sons, Greg and

> > Patti Rundall, OBE
> > Policy Director
> > Baby Milk Action/International Baby Food Action Network.

** * *
Baby Milk Action is the UK member of:
The International Nestl� Boycott Committee


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