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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NO! to formula milk donations

We are again in the middle of an emergency.  There have been several calls for donation and despite previous reminders about not asking for formula milk donations, here's another one:

I previously posted about why formula milk donations should not be accepted during emergencies and disasters but here is a recent and first hand sharing by Dr. Zeka Tatad-To:

As I shared, one of the insights I gained from previous missions is that most of the moms in the evacuation centers ARE breastfeeding and they just need to be encouraged AND not be enticed by formula milk donations.  Once formula milk donations are started, the moms (even if exclusively breastfeeding) will WANT to get a freebie - because otherwise, they feel cheated of "help" or "dole-out".  Not only are direct formula milk donations illegal under the Milk Code,

Hence, what is actually needed would be counselors who can encourage moms to continue on and help the mixed feedings moms switch back to exclusive breastfeeding.  As shared by Zeka, here are the guidelines on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies. You can see more guidelines in the photo below:

Further, calls for breastmilk donations would not be as simple as bring the breastmilk to the evacuation center and leaving it there.  As I shared here, the breastmilk donations should come with information, support and counseling.  Experience from previous missions will show that feeding and counseling the breastfeeding moms is also essential to encourage them to continue breastfeeding.

In fact, UNICEF emphasized the dangers of infant formula donations, shown in their experience during Sendong:
During emergencies such as floods, families who have lost loved ones and homes also lose their ability to get adequate nutritious food and also the means to prepare healthy meals. The increase in malnutrition rates may be attributed to this compromised food supply and the food quality of families who are now displaced. For infants, an exacerbating factor is the widespread donations of powdered milk, which undermines breastfeeding, leading to a loss of the protective nutrients found in breast milk. Lack of exclusive breastfeeding puts babies’ health in jeopardy, because of the increased risk of diarrhea and other infections. Globally, an infant not breastfed is six times more likely to die.

Arugaan is still coordinating on the necessity of breastfeeding missions.  Meanwhile, The Medela House has an ongoing breastfeeding drive and you can drop of your breastmilk donations to 29 1st St. New Manila, Quezon City from Monday - Friday 830am-530pm and Saturday 830am-2pm.  The UP-PGH Milk Bank is also accepting donations 24/7.  Please contact Nurses Grace or Tina at 09214535310 or 5362867.

Finally, watch this video on the importance of breastfeeding during emergency situations.

Stay safe and dry everyone!

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