WHO, Unicef push breastfeeding in typhoon evacuation centers
MANILA, Philippines–The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) have jointly expressed alarm over the high possibility of milk formula or breast milk substitutes being distributed in areas affected by Tropical Storm “Ruby” as part of the immediate response.
“Supporting breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can do to protect babies in areas affected by Ruby. The uncontrolled distribution and use of milk substitutes in emergencies is extremely dangerous given the serious water and sanitation challenges associated with disasters,” Dr. Julie Hall, WHO representative in the Philippines, said in a statement.
Consistent with the global recommendation from the World Health Assembly, the Department of Health, Unicef and WHO are calling for action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding during emergencies. They point out that:
— Mothers can breastfeed even when they are under difficult circumstances. Awareness of this is an important part of being able to continue breastfeeding.
— Nonbreastfed babies affected by Ruby need to be identified so their feeding situation can be assessed, and their mothers provided with skilled support and the safest feeding option.
— Artificial feeding can only be a last resort, with strict measures to minimize the risks by ensuring that any donation and/or supply of breast milk substitutes are purchased, distributed and used according to criteria specified in the Operational Guidance for Emergency Relief Staff and Programme Managers on infant and young child feeding in emergencies.
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