The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals
& organisations concerned with the protection, promotion & support of breastfeeding worldwide.
WABA action is based on the Innocenti Declaration, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the
Global Strategy for Infant & Young Child Feeding. WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF & an NGO
in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).

A special tribute to Pat Jeliffe
Kindly contributed by Dr. Michael C. Latham,
co-chair of WABA's International Advisory Council


The WABA Crawl...

To listen to the WABA crawl,
please click here
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Tributo a Pat Jelliffe (Portuguese)

"With the death of Patrice Jelliffe we mourn the loss of a very special
and very wonderful lady -- and she really was a "lady." For me it is the very sad ending to a friendship which spanned 48 years, beginning in Africa with Pat and Dick, and ending quite recently in Patrice's house in Bel Air in California. I have such rich memories.

I was privileged to be the main speaker at two major memorial events for Dick Jelliffe. One was at the IUNS Congress in 1993 in Adelaide, Australia and the earlier one in 1992 when Dick posthumously was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Public Health Association. On both occasions, in describing the great achievements of Dick, I recognized that almost all of these were joint achievements of the two Jelliffes -- Patrice and Dick.

Dick died on 18th March 1992 in their house. Patrice, to me, often blamed herself quite wrongly for Dick's untimely death. Bravely she continued her productive life from there for another 15 years.

Michael Latham & Pat Jelliffe April 20, 2004

I have such wonderful memories of Pat in so many different settings. I have been with her on five continents, and in too many countries to name and I have been entertained in her homes in Kampala, Jamaica and Los Angeles. Whenever, and wherever, I was with her, she was interested and interesting; serious and fun; and always exquisitely dressed, sexy and beautiful.

Patrice made enormous contributions to the fields of child health; to international nutrition; and was an icon of the breastfeeding movement. Her editorship, and stewardship, of the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics in its several guises, long after Dick's death was a rare dedication, and a major contribution to the science, but especially the practice of mother and child health.
I first met Pat and Dick Jelliffe in 1959 at a medical conference in Dares Salaam in Tanzania. I was 30 years of age, a young doctor running Songea District Hospital in southern Tanzania, near the Mozambique border. This was the first time that I was presenting a scientific paper at a major conference. I was nervous as a rabbit. I knew the Jelliffe name. They were working in Kampala. I wondered what kind of reaction I, a "bush doctor", would get from this renowned couple, who before moving to Uganda had already worked in the Sudan, Nigeria, the West Indies, India and New Orleans, and published so extensively. My paper entitled "Malnutrition as a cause of anaemia in children" became my first publication. My first impression was how young and friendly they were. Dick was intelligently helpful with regard to my paper. Patrice was equally supportive but also so genuine, so kind and generous, as well as so charming. I was won over by both of them. I kept in close touch.

The very last time I was with Dick and Pat together was in New York City in April 1991. Two months earlier we had worked together in a basement room in UNICEF headquarters to establish WABA, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. Now we were trying to set up a structure for WABA, a modus operandi, a management entity--not an easy task. Our work more or less done, after a couple of long days of work, we went to our hotels, and met for a late dinner. With a little wine consumed the Jelliffes invented the "WABA crawl", a kind of Caribbean dance, led of course by the ebullient, glamorous, fun-loving, ever smiling Patrice Jelliffe. The "crawl" is    still performed at WABA celebrations!

The last time I was with Pat was quite recently in her house in the hills
of Bel Air in Los Angeles. She was now in failing health. I visited her
with Irwin Shorr, a Jelliffe protégé, and admirer. We reminisced; Pat
talked of unfinished work for her beloved journal; her house was, as
always well tended; one of her young Philippina helpers was in
attendance, and asked if we needed anything; I suggested tea, and soon we moved outside for tea and biscuits by the pool. With deteriorating health Pat was still beautiful, elegantly dressed; and living in great dignity. I felt sad at her decline but very happy for the manner in which she was living, still in her beloved home, surrounded by memories.

Michael Latham & Irwin Shorr  with Pat Jelliffe April 20, 2004

Tribute to DBJ, Adelaide, Sept 1993

But I have some joyous memories of times spent with Pat in the years following Dick's death. One was at the International Congress of Nutrition in Adelaide, Australia in 1993. There, as well as the special session honoring Dick Jelliffe, there were strong protests against Nestle funding for the Congress. Pat helped lead an evening candle lit vigil outside the Congress; and she spoke eloquently and emotionally about the immorality and the conflict of interest in a Congress of Nutrition accepting financial support from manufacturers of breast milk substitutes. But surrounded by allies in this worthy cause, both established health professionals, but importantly young Australian activists, Pat was elated and joyous.Five years later in Montreal, Canada with WABA allies, and young people from McGill and Montreal Universities, Pat was at the center of similar protests against funding for the International Nutrition Congress there. Here it was great to hear Pat equally well in English and French (her native tongue) emotionally excoriating the conference organizers for accepting "tainted money."
 But also at scientific sessions, Patrice Jelliffe, the professional, was raising important questions and making very constructive comments, and was discussing with young research workers the possibility of publishing their work in her journal.

I do believe that Pat's six years in Uganda with Dick were the happiest and most productive phase of their life. It was an extraordinarily active period for both of them, and their work was totally intertwined. While in Uganda they conducted numerous field surveys and investigations. They worked incredibly well together, and with small teams of workers often in remote and difficult areas. They examined children, they treated all comers, and they learnt not only about nutritional status and disease, but also about local cultural factors which influenced the malnutrition and disease they encountered. This, influenced largely by Pat's sociological interests, was pioneering medical-anthropology. It is an early example of combining ethnographic and biological investigations. During their years in Uganda their writing seemed to reach incredible proportions, almost all joint publications, with numerous books, book chapters and papers.

My bias in believing that the Jelliffes' time in Uganda was particularly pivotal, might be because during those years I first came to know them while I was their neighbor working next door some 900 miles away in Tanzania first as a District Medical Officer and later as Director of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health and teaching in the new medical school in Dar es Salaam. I was also priviledged to see them frequently. I felt it was a great loss to Africa when the Jelliffes left for Jamaica in 1966, but they did not ignore Africa, and their activities and writings were by then having a huge influence worldwide. In 1972 they made their last move to appointments at UCLA in Los Angeles.

In conclusion can anyone doubt that Patrice Jelliffe was an outstanding pioneer in child health and infant feeding? She was an extraordinary person, who wherever she went radiated wisdom, warmth and willingness to help young professionals, young mothers and young children. A Jelliffe word that has become our common currency is "diad", an evocative word, a very useful concept, capturing the picture of a happy and thriving, mother and babe. But it goes beyond that, because it suggests two human beings, each giving and receiving, and above all it suggests mutual love. In March 1992 Dick's death left behind what Zeff Ebrahim suggested was "the other half of the best known diad in tropical pediatrics." Today we mourn the death of the second half, we celebrate her rich life, and we recognize with admiration, her huge contributions to the world,and to her many friends. And whether one believes in Allah, or Buddha, or Christ, or simply in ethics and love, let us believe that somehow Pat and Dick are again a diad, they certainly are together in my heart."

Tributes from around the world.....
If you would like to pay tribute or share any interesting pictures of the Jeliffe's that we could post on our website, please click here

The outpouring of grief and admiration of Pat Jelliffe that I have received from  many of you, and others,
has been touching.
Best wishes,
Michael Latham

Thank you for these truly loving and beautiful words, what a wonderful tribute to a remarkable  woman!
I am grateful to you and the Jelliffe's for being uch inspiring mentors for me. Whenever I feel discouraged about
the ongoing challenges we face in the world of maternal and child health, I am encouraged by the examples of so many
of you "  teachers" and " mentors" who have been working at these issues for almost as long as I am old!!

The world will always give us challenges to face and each of us has a choice of how we are going to face those 
challenges. I am grateful for the example of courage that Patrice continued to demonstrate throughout her life.

I am encouraged by the " Youth Movement " of WABA... with their technical skills they are teaching us new ways to 
face the ongoing challenges. But no matter how skilled we become with technology,we need to continue to have the 
creativity, compassion and courage which Pat Jelliffe demonstrated to the world.

Thank you,
Beth Styer

  ... the dyad are together again..  micheal's beautiful memories, i will add how at a Le leche league conference in Chicago there was a
  fire alarm and all of us had to rush out in the early hours,dishevelled and confused ..but pat was out there
  in her calm and exquisitely beautifully dressed self...exuding that eternally lovely confidence that
  was her hallmark....
  ...and to  beth's remembrance of their creativity,compassion and courage ..i would add competence..they were unbeatable
  ...the concept of the 'dyad' is so much part of our   work...
  local /global,
  ...everytime we play the "WABA CRAWL" we will feel the energy and joy they brought to us....
  ...lets continue to play it often...even make it a ring tone for our hand/cell phones/mobiles?..i can
  hear them laughing...
  Anwar Fazal 

  I have to add to the memories about that memorable couple ... I can quite 
  see them sitting in some heaven chuckling together over human frailty, but
  their humour was always with warmth. 

  I remember being in a meeting as a young and vulnerable Nordic, I couldn't help shedding tears when an
  unfriendly lady told me I was most improperly dressed in my Bangladeshi saree.  Dick who overheard the
  conversation looked at the voluminous curtains in the room and said: "Wouldn't it be simpler if we all were
  dressed in a standard Conference attire ... like in those curtains ... same for everyone ... men and women." 
  My tears dried instantly at the prospect of the Jelliffes in Curtains.

  Humour was a very important part of their armamentarium. Sometimes they would play whole sketches for the
  benefit of each other and the lucky bystander, and it is not possible to say who were the most spirited of the
  two. I join Anwar in wishfully thinking that the dyad is now together again as it was meant to be, as an example
  of love and dedication to a worthy cause ...
  Elisabet Helsing

Thank you for copying me on the moving messages from everyone about  Patrice  Jelliffe. I was not able to provide anything, because alas I never met either of the Jelliffes. This was because I missed the founding
meeting of WABA in 1991 (and the WABA crawl) when I went down with bronchitis. So this is a big regret for me, but I will try and imagine the Jelliffes from photos that I have seen, and of course draped in curtains, as Elisabet suggests.

Best wishes,
Alison Linnecar

How wonderful that WABA has set up a special page dedicated to the memories of Patrice Jelliffe.  And at last, I can pore over pictures of this great lady.  What a lovely thought.  Thank you all so much.

Pamela Morrison

A great loss. And to know of Patrice after so long.  

Patrice came with Derrick to Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, several times, coinciding with me. They always honored my work in Guatemala and Costa Rica, and despite being myself a man from a Third World Country, they frequently quoted my work both verbally and in writing, and eventually appointed me to the Editorial Board of the "Advances in International Maternal and Child Health", a unique Series.  

Those are times gone, of great interaction, of constant inspection of the real issues and needs of children and women throughout the world, and of intense production and advancement towards those goals.  

They were ture scientific and humane champions ! 

Thanks for letting me know of Patrice 

Leonardo Mata

Although I never had the privilege of actually meeting Patrice Jelliffe, I was grateful to be able to read and learn from "the dyad's" prolific writings over four decades.  Not many people make such a mark in their chosen field.  This website tribute is an excellent idea.

Virginia Thorley

Tribute in memory of Patrice Jelliffe 11/29/20-3/14/07
by Chele Marmet

I was privileged to know both the Jelliffes, to lecture annually for many years to Dr J's UCLA students, whom in later years he brought to the Lactation Institute on a field trip for that yearly lecture, and to have him lecture annually to my students.  I have so many fond memories, including the meeting held in the Room of the Children at UNICEF Headquarters where WABA was founded in 2/91, that it is hard to share only one or two, but the following always makes me smile and perhaps best depicts the reverence with which I held Dr. J while providing an example of Patrice's exuberance and some insight into their relationship. There are very few people whom I have mentally placed high on a pedestal.  Dr. J was one of them and consequently I always thought of him and addressed him as Dr Jelliffe, in spite of living in informal Los Angeles.  Patrice answered the phone one day when I returned a call and said Dr. J was not home, but proceeded to chat with me about many things for about an hour.  And then suddenly she exclaimed in her wonderfully high pitched, excited voice, "Oh Chele, Dickie's home.  Dickie wants to talk to you."  I thought, knowing the Jelliffe's well enough that "Dickie" wanted me was enough of a complement to inspire me through at least the next year of work.  Clearly, Patrice was so thrilled to have her Dickie home that it was obvious the two were joyously intertwined.

Dr. Jelliffe was my mentor through the creation of the field of lactation consulting.  He was the match that lit my fire.  When I first went to him in 1977 with my idea  to create a new allied health profession he immediately grasped the vision and said, "Oh Chele, you must do this.  The world needs lactation consultants.  You must do this now."  From that time on, he generously mentored my work, always making time for me, sharing his profound wisdom.  His complete grasp of so many "worlds" (the medical world, the pediatric world, the nutrition world, the public health world, the volunteer breastfeeding world, the academic world, etc.) provided me with precious guidance that I doubt could have been equaled by any other human. Even with experience in all those "worlds," it was his visionary ability and understanding of politics and timing that made him so valuable to so many.

Patrice was Dr J's joie de vivre, always elegantly dressed, groomed and looking beautiful.  She made the drudge of work fun with her bubbly laugh and her high spirits.  They did almost everything together which made life more joyful  for both.  After Dr. J's death 3/17/92, a spark went out of Patrice that I never saw again.  I enjoyed many lovely dinners/evenings with her that I organized  knowing that she had no other family and not wanting her to be alone.  She told me on several occasions that her work editing the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, etc. was her way of keeping Dr. J's memory alive, and that this gave her a reason to keep on living.

In Dec of 1993, Patrice was honored by then President Clinton as an American hero who dramatically improved the health commitment to the world's children as a public health expert promoting nutrition in nursing education and fostering breastfeeding worldwide.  The world's children were beyond a doubt their children.

The death of Patrice truly marks a sad passing of an era in the breastfeeding world.  I like the idea of us remembering them as a dyad.  It fits how they thought and lived.  Though Patirce will be greatly missed, I'm sure that she is thrilled to be with her Dickie again.

Thanks for info about Patrice Jelliffe. My condolences to WABA.I remember speaking with her to clarify some points in BF history, when compiling the BF SOurcebook.

Lakshmi Menon

The world is richer for having had Patrice in it and poorer now that she is gone. I never knew her but I surely knew her work.  She was amongst the first to be called 'breastfeeding advocate'. I count it a priviledge to be called by that same name.  She was not a well behaved woman.

'Well behaved women rarely make history' -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Nina Berry

Pat and Dick were an inspiration to us all. They worked closely with each other and not only did they greatly enrich the literature providing a scientific basis for the support of breastfeeding but they engaged actively in critical promotional activities inspiring us all and acting as mentors to just so many.
 I had the pleasure of working with the Jelliffes when I worked with USAID and then on Mother and Child Health as well as other publications . The support I received was tremendous especially when Nestles wanted to remove a HEW publication we had circulated worldwide on infant feeding persectives. We managed to continue distributing this document in support of breastfeeding.
Pat and Dick had an exyraordinary loving, sharing, caring relationship.Pat said that Dick always had a suprise present for her which he just gave her out of the blue. They had so much love and respect for each other and others they worked with.
They were responsible for being movers and shakers in the breastfeeding movement They loved images , charts and diagrams to further the cause.- They introduced many descriptive terms  such as commerciogenic,secotrant, dyad, multimixes and minimalists.  The baby friendly hospital initiative is in itself testimony to their tireless activity.
They changed the way the world thinks of public health in developing countries. 
They have inspired and influenced a whole cadre of breastfeeding promoters and activists
They left a legacy which we must continue

Naomi Baumslag

In 1982 we - The Informative Breastfeeding Service (tibs) of Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies - held our 2nd Breastfeeding Seminar and had the great honour to have both Professor and Mrs. Jelliffe as speakers.

Mrs. Jelliffe opened her presentation with the following sentence- 

'Biological feeding has been the universal method of nuturing infants since the beginning of human existance on this planet. It is only in the past 50 years that processed cow's milk has been widely used as an alternative to the natural method of feeding the young infant.' 

Since then Mrs. Jelliffe remained close to tibs and continued to give us the necessary support to keep doing the work which we still continue to do- and until recently was a paid up member of our organisation.

We extend our sympathy to her family. 

With warm regards
The Executive and Counsellors of tibs

I never met either of them, yet I appreciate the magnitude of their work and use their creations as stones in the foundation of my work. Sad at the end of an era

Nikki Lee RN, MS, Mother of 2, IBCLC, CCE, CIMI

We are very sorry to hear about the death of WABA's founding member. Please accept our condolence. It is kind of difficult to cope up with the departure of loved ones. We can assure you that your family members will be in our thoughts & prayers. "When God calls a soul to a high station, it is because that soul has capacity for that station as a gift of God, and because that soul has supplicated to be taken into His service... ." (Abdu'l-Baha) "How does one look forward to the goal of any journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of this earthly journey... Those who have passed on through death have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours... Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation." (Abdu'l-Baha) "At first it is very difficult to welcome death, but after attaining its new condition the soul is grateful, for it has been released from the bondage of the limited to enjoy the liberties of the unlimited. It has been freed from a world of sorrow, grief and trials to live in a world of unending bliss and joy." (Abdu'l-Baha) with sincere sympathy

Amatul Wadood Nazli & Team Members , Resource Centre for Development Alternatives (RCDA), Pakistan

If you would like to pay tribute or share any interesting pictures of the Jeliffe's that we could post on our website, please click here

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