Breastmilk in a state of emergency

In an emergency situation, whether a natural or man-made disaster, breastfeeding is an important strategy for increasing infant and child survival. “Appropriate and timely support of infant and young child feeding in emergencies (IFE) saves lives.”

In this WHO podcast on ‘The importance of breastfeeding during emergencies,’ Dr. Veronica Riemer says: “Infants who are not breastfed are vulnerable to infection and to developing diarrhoea. Following an emergency, one of the first things that is donated is breast milk substitute – often done with the best of intentions, but this can have a negative impact on the health of mothers and children.” IFE states: “In emergencies, donations of BMS (Breastmilk Substitutes) are not needed and may put infants’ lives at risk [bold –ed.].”

Identifying key decision-makers at household, community and local health facility level who influence infant and young child feeding practices is crucial information when determining the priorities for action and response in emergencies. A parent-to-parent milksharing network can be vital for a fast mobilization of aid when and where needed.

Please also see “How do I protect my breastmilk during a power outage?”

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