In July, the American Academy of Nursing (Academy) and the American Nurses Association (ANA) decried the attempt by the United States delegation to the World Health Assembly (WHA) to use strong-arm tactics to undermine global efforts supporting and promoting breastfeeding.
Human milk is inarguably a life-saving medical intervention. As reported in a 2016 study published by The Lancet, breastfeeding could save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year. Human milk and breastfeeding are critical for infant and child health, as well as for the health of mothers. Professional organizations worldwide recommend exclusive human milk/breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding for the first year and beyond.
Access to affordable, basic nutrition
Globally, too few women are able to meet the recommended exclusive human milk feedings for the first 6 months, which in turn means many women aren’t able to breastfeed for 1 year or 2 years as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Families worldwide deserve the right to evidence-based lactation care and education.
“The Academy has long-endorsed human milk and breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding, and our own Expert Panel on Breastfeeding is in agreement with the evidence-based consensus among public health professionals that breastmilk is the healthiest option for babies,” said Academy President Karen Cox, PhD, RN, FAAN. “While access to formula for women who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to breastfeed is important, we find it irresponsible for any government to oppose a resolution which promotes affordable, basic nutrition that is the best for infants and young children.”
“The health benefits of breast milk for children are unparalleled. Additionally, women who breastfeed experience a lower risk of breast cancer, depression, and other diseases,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “For decades, international and national healthcare organizations have worked to educate women about the benefits of and reduce the barriers to breastfeeding. It is unconscionable that any government would act in opposition to these goals.”
Two provisions opposed
Despite the undisputed benefits of breastfeeding, the U.S. delegation to the WHA opposed two provisions of the resolution. The first opposed provision urged member states to protect, support, and promote breastfeeding; the second opposed provision urged member states to continue to implement the recommendations of WHO’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes to end inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.
Ultimately, the U.S. delegation signed on to the resolution, but not before successfully eliminating the provision to end “inappropriate” promotion of foods for infants and children. Contrary to U.S. claims that the issue surrounding the elimination of the inappropriate promotion of foods’ provision was to ensure women who are unable to breastfeed are equally supported with information and access to alternatives for themselves and their babies, the resolution in no way restricted access to formula. In fact, the provision already included a separate provision promoting the timely and adequate complementary feeding of the non-breastfed child between 6 and 24 months of age. As evidenced by the language of the eliminated provision, its aim was to end inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and children, not the availability of alternatives for women who are unable to breastfeed.
The Academy and ANA urge the Administration to fully support, protect, and promote breastfeeding, nationally and internationally, so that all infants, children, and mothers may receive the undisputed life-saving benefits that breastfeeding provides.
ANA elects new president, officers
On June 23, the American Nurses Association (ANA) Membership Assembly’s eligible voting members elected Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, of the North Carolina Nurses Association, as the association’s next president. Grant will be the first man to serve as ANA president. The Assembly also elected four other members to serve on the 9-member board. Terms of service for the newly elected leaders begin January 1, 2019.
Grant, the current ANA vice president, is an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert and oversees the nationally acclaimed North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He also serves as adjunct faculty for the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he works with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.
The newly elected board members are:
Secretary Stephanie Pierce, PhD, RN, CNE, of the Louisiana State Nurses Association
Director-at-Large Tonisha Melvin, DNP, CRRN, NP-C, of the Georgia Nurses Association
Director-at-Large Varsha Singh, MSN, APN, of the New Jersey State Nurses Association
Director-at-Large Staff Nurse Jennifer Gil, BSN, RN, of ANA Massachusetts.
The following ANA board members will continue their terms in 2019: Treasurer Jennifer Mensik, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, of the Oregon Nurses Association; Director-at-Large MaryLee Pakieser, MSN, RN, BC-FNP, of ANA Michigan; and Director-at-Large, Recent Graduate, Amanda Buechel, BSN, RN, of ANA-Illinois.
Elected to serve on the Nominations and Elections Committee are Bonita Ball, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, NE-BC, of the Delaware Nurses Association; Rebecca Huie, DNP, RN, ACNP, of the Alabama State Nurses Association; and Heidi Sanborn, MSN, RN, CNE, of the Arizona Nurses Association.
Nurse leader named NAM Nurse Scholar-in-Residence
Lori Trego, PhD, CNM, FAAN, has been selected as the 2018–2019 Distinguished Nurse Scholar-in-Residence at the National Academy of Medicine (NAM).
During her time as a NAM Distinguished Nurse Scholar, Trego plans to expand her leadership experience in enhancing the wellness of women who serve, and have served, in the nation’s military.
“I am honored to be selected for this extraordinary opportunity to represent the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, and the American Nurses Foundation, and to provide a nursing perspective during the formation of health policy,” Trego said. “My intention while at NAM is to champion efforts to improve the health and care of active military and Veteran women through evidence-based policies and informed policy decision-making.”
Trego is a certified nurse-midwife and associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus College of Nursing, where she teaches in the Veteran and Military Healthcare graduate program. She recently implemented the university’s Veteran and Military Health Area of Excellence, an interprofessional, cross-campus collaborative to improve healthcare and education for those providing care to veterans. Trego retired from the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in 2015 after 25 years of active duty service. Having built a program of research dedicated to improving the health of military women across the life course, her current work with veteran women investigates women’s perceptions of the care afforded to them by the Veterans Administration.
The Distinguished NAM Nurse Scholar-in-Residence program is supported by the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association, and the American Nurses Foundation. Gifts to the Academy’s Rheba de Tornyay development fund and the Foundation’s Annual Fund support the Scholar-in-Residence program.
ANA speaks out to end immoral U.S. immigration practice
The American Nurses Association (ANA) has been closely monitoring the evolving situation at the southern border of the United States, and the Membership Assembly joined the ANA board in issuing the following statement in June.
ANA adamantly opposes the Administration’s policy and practices toward migrants and asylum seekers that result in the forcible separation of children from their families. These actions put the welfare of immigrant children at risk and are causing irreparable harm, such as, negative physical and emotional symptoms from separation and detention, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has already acknowledged that 1,995 children have been separated from their families at the U.S.–Mexico border between April 19 and May 31. ANA condemns the use of this policy to create a deterrent for those seeking a safer and better place to live and believes that children should never be used as leverage or as a negotiating tool.
The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (ANA, 2015) calls on all nurses to always act to preserve the human rights of vulnerable groups such as children, women, and refugees.
ANA urges the Administration to immediately end the forced separation of children from families at the border; calls for reunification of separated children and families without delay; calls on policymakers and Administration officials to establish compassionate immigration policies that reflect the humanity and human rights of all people; and urges the appropriate government agencies to reveal the location of shelters and invite humanitarian groups to provide physical, mental, and spiritual care to those children and families who have been forcibly separated at U.S. borders.
Nurses, who are knowledgeable about the care of children and families, stand ready to assist in providing care to meet the urgent and ongoing needs of this vulnerable population.
ANA continues to advocate for the reunification of families and to preserve the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers (bit.ly/2M2prBi).
ANA responds to two critical Supreme Court decisions
Two landmark decisions from the nation’s highest court brought swift response from the American Nurses Association (ANA).
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Trump v. Hawaii that the president has the authority to ban travelers from certain majority-Muslim countries if the president thinks that it is necessary to protect the United States, overturning lower court decisions that had struck down three versions of the so-called travel ban.
“ANA is very disappointed that the Supreme Court did not maintain the injunction against the travel ban,” said ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN. “Nursing is committed to the welfare of the sick, injured, and vulnerable in society and to social justice.” Citing the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements, she underscored nurses’ duty to advocate for the protection of social justice to guard against unfair targeting of religious groups.
In Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the Court ruled on June 27 that employees who are represented by a public sector union but elect not to join the union can no longer be compelled to pay “fair share” fees.
The decision overturned the Supreme Court’s prior longstanding ruling in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that allowed public employee unions to collect fair share fees from non-union members, who benefit from the union’s collective bargaining efforts through better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
“The American Nurses Association recognizes the value of public employee unions, which represent a wide range of public employees, including registered nurses,” said Cipriano. ANA expressed disappointment that the collection of fair share fees from those who are not members of the union but who benefit from collective bargaining services was found unconstitutional.