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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

Shared Principles of Ethics for Infant and Young Child Nutrition in the Developing World

Jerome Amir Singh123*, Abdallah S Daar1 and Peter A Singer1

Author Affiliations

1 McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Durban, South Africa

3 Joint Centre for Bioethics and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:321  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-321

Published: 8 June 2010

Abstract

Background

The defining event in the area of infant feeding is the aggressive marketing of infant formula in the developing world by transnational companies in the 1970s. This practice shattered the trust of the global health community in the private sector, culminated in a global boycott of Nestle products and has extended to distrust of all commercial efforts to improve infant and young child nutrition. The lack of trust is a key barrier along the critical path to optimal infant and young child nutrition in the developing world.

Discussion

To begin to bridge this gap in trust, we developed a set of shared principles based on the following ideals: Integrity; Solidarity; Justice; Equality; Partnership, cooperation, coordination, and communication; Responsible Activity; Sustainability; Transparency; Private enterprise and scale-up; and Fair trading and consumer choice. We hope these principles can serve as a platform on which various parties in the in the infant and young child nutrition arena, can begin a process of authentic trust-building that will ultimately result in coordinated efforts amongst parties.

Summary

A set of shared principles of ethics for infant and young child nutrition in the developing world could catalyze the scale-up of low cost, high quality, complementary foods for infants and young children, and eventually contribute to the eradication of infant and child malnutrition in the developing world.