Our thoughts are with the victims and families affected by the earthquake that struck Haiti. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization, and the World Food Programme have released an important joint statement calling for support for appropriate infant and young child feeding during the Haiti emergency to prevent malnutrition, morbidity, and mortality among children. The message emphasizes the following points:
- Breastfeeding is the safest feeding option for infants during an emergency. Every effort should be made to support mothers to breastfeed and avoid the use of breastmilk substitutes, which should be a last resort only after fully exploring safer options.
- Relactation should be prioritized for infants younger than six months of age who are no longer breastfed. When this is not possible (e.g., for orphans), or when skilled personnel identify a need for artificial feeding, breastmilk substitutes must be accompanied by training for caregivers on hygienic preparation and use. Liquid ready-to-use breastmilk substitutes are preferred over powder mixes.
- In an emergency, the use of breastmilk substitutes can endanger children’s lives and, in accordance with international guidelines, they should not be donated. UNICEF is the coordinating agency in Haiti for the appropriate use of breastmilk substitutes and can provide guidance to organizations.
- Children older than six months of age require nutritious, age-appropriate, and safe complementary foods in addition to breastmilk. Priority should be given to providing local, culturally acceptable foods. When cooking facilities are unavailable, ready-to-use fortified foods are an option. However, once cooking facilities have been set up, fortified blended food is recommended.
Download the statement. Please share this information with colleagues working on relief efforts for Haiti.
Date: Jan 29, 2010 | Category: Announcements