„How beautiful you are, my little Nebou,“ Tamia thought over
and over, holding her daughter in her arms, „you’re the most beautiful being
in the world.“ And Tamia was just 16 when she got her first daughter, but
that was not unusual where she lived, in a small village about an hour’s walk
from Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Tamia had given birth in the
hospital. It had been an easy birth. Now little Nebou lay at her breast, and
drank, and drank with such enthusiasm, motherly milk to such eagerness, as if
she would take life in herself. And that was it, life. Breast milk. Milk for
the baby, her baby. It seemed to have been exhausting, because at some point
Nebou’s head sagged backwards. In the middle of the sucking she had fallen
asleep. And Tamia held her in her arms and was happy.
„What a beautiful baby,“ a voice tore
Tamia from the contemplation of her little daughter. A nurse had come to their
bed and smiled at them, „But you want your daughter to stay healthy and
grow tall and strong?“ The nurse continued, and of course Tamia wanted
that. „So, you better go with her give milk powder,“ explained the
sister, „because everything is inside, what your baby needs. And your breasts
stay beautiful, for your husband. Men do not want women with ugly breasts.
„And Tamia confided in the woman she considered a nurse because she did
not know she was not a nurse, but a paid nurse from Nestle dressed as a nurse,
the women familiar. So, Tamia stopped breastfeeding. A few days later she
returned to her home village. Only then did she realize that the powdered milk
that she had initially received for free was very expensive. But she had to buy
it because she stopped breastfeeding and ran out of milk. So, she stretched it
out and took the water she needed to mix. But the water was not clean. Nebou
had diarrhea, quickly fell and was dead a few days later. And Tamia could do
nothing but sit by and watch her daughter miserably die.
She would not have had to believe the sister, they say. It is your own fault if you do not think about it. Well-meaning, arrogant first-world voices reproaching a simple girl in one of the world’s poorest countries for trusting.
Thousands of babies died and die, not only in Africa but also in South America, as a result of aggressive marketing methods for milk powder in hospitals. Local women had been hired to gain women’s trust and sell the expensive, though highly subsidized, powdered milk. And they were recruited by the Swiss Nestlé group. In 1974, a booklet entitled „The Baby Killer“ was published by „War on Want“, blaming Nestlé for killing thousands of babies. This booklet has been translated by Swiss activists entitled „Nestlé Kills Babies“. The Swiss group complained about this because of defamation and slander and won the case. Thirteen activists were convicted for defamation and a fine of 300 francs each. But they had the moral victory, because the judge held in the verdict that Nestlé is responsible for the death of thousands of babies with his unethical behavior. In addition, WHO established a restrictive list of criteria for the marketing of baby food. Thus, the products must contain a note that breastfeeding is the best in the first six months of life.
In fact, Nestlé does not stick to it, despite all the lip-service. Although no disguised nurses are sent anymore, doctors and nurses, real ones in the case, are a little bit financially supported. But that’s not all. Milk powder, which continues to be a major sales success for the Group, especially in third world countries, is produced from European milk, so that producers in the countries of destination are plundered and ruined. In addition, each year, Nestlé receives 25 million from the taxpayer as subsidies. In short, Nestlé exports a highly subsidized product to third world countries, ruining the dairy industry there and also making a healthy profit (srf-wirtschaft). And babies are still dying as a result of aggressive marketing and a more than questionable product.