Infant feeding in emergencies

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UN urges no formula donations after Philippines Typhoon

Arugaan mothersArugaan mothers

Arugaan with mothersArugaan with mothers

Arugaan volunteers help mothers

All infants with diarrhea, near death with dehydration and sent to hospitals straight from C-130 (planes) are all bottle - and formula-fed...All babies who are breastfed are well and not even sick despite getting soaked cold last Friday (when Yolanda hit).

Haide Acuna, a breastfeeding campaigner visiting the evacuation centers in Cebu 1

With our water and food supply running low, I just breastfed and breastfed my son...If our child had been dependent on milk formula, I would have taken part in looting, too....When we went out to forage for food, I saw people looting formula milk for their babies...Even if the baby were bottle-fed before Yolanda, the baby could be breastfed anytime.

Danika Christin Magoncia,  a Yolanda survivor from Tacloban 1

Typhoons are common in the Philippines, but the one that hit Tacloban City and Cebu in November was one of the strongest ever recorded. People were left without food, water and power. In this context breastfeeding is a lifeline for babies. 

In the aftermath over 20 UN agencies and NGOs issued an urgent appeal, highlighting the risk to life from formula donations. Donor agencies, NGOs, media and individuals were urged to avoid calls for and sending of baby feeding products into the area and called for needs assessments by qualified health and nutrition workers trained in infant feeding.


Industry threat to the Philippines 

Meanwhile the baby food industry - under the guise of the Infant and Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines (IPNAP) has been trying to weaken the existing protection of the Philippines Milk Code in order to legitimise many of its harmful practices ices, such as advertising of formulas, industry contact with mothers for so-called educational purposes, sponsorship and training health workers. Lactation breaks at work would also be unpaid. They also want to be able to give donations of baby milks during emergencies. WHO, UNICEF Philippines and the International Labour Office (ILO) are urging the Philippines Government to reconsider any relaxation of the Milk Code. 


For more information follow these leads:

Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies, v2.1, Feb 2007  



A first hand account from Velvet Here:            

Groups urge breast milk for babies in storm shelters, Inquirer News.


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