Menu ENN Search

Infant feeding support at scale in the Haiti 2010 response

Summary of published experience1

A mother and her infant in HaitiLocation: Haiti

What we know: Sub-optimal breastfeeding practices increase risk of infant morbidity, malnutrition and death. Emergencies increase these risks.

What this article adds:Targeted breastfeeding and artificial feeding support to assessed infants and children was successfully provided at scale during the Haiti response. There were many challenges including how to assess need for artificial feeding at individual and community levels, how to manage supplies of infant formula and lack of national capacity to provide skilled support to breastfeeding infants. Lessons include the need for minimum implementation and reporting standards and monitoring tools at individual and project levels.

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti displaced about 1.5 million people, many of them into camps for internally displaced persons. It was expected that disruption of breastfeeding practices would lead to increased infant morbidity, malnutrition and mortality. There was additional risk of untargeted donations of infant formula; in the weeks immediately after the earthquake, Haiti received infant feeding products from different countries in enormous quantities.

Haiti’s health ministry and UNICEF, in collaboration with local and international non-governmental organisations, established baby tents in the areas affected by the earthquake. The tents provided a safe place for mothers to breastfeed and for non-breastfed infants to receive ready-to-use infant formula. Such a large and coordinated baby tent response in an emergency context had never been mounted before anywhere in the world.

Baby tents were set up in five cities but mainly in Port-au-Prince, where the majority of Haiti’s 1555 camps for displaced persons had been established.

Between February 2010 and June 2012, 193 baby tents were set up; 180,499 mother–infant pairs and 52,503 pregnant women were registered in the baby tent programme. Of infants younger than 6 months, 70% were reported to be exclusively breastfed and 10% of the “mixed feeders” moved to exclusive breastfeeding while enrolled. In 2010, 13.5% of registered infants could not be breastfed. These infants received ready-to-use infant formula.

Challenges

There were many challenges requiring ‘real time’ innovation to address them, including:

Key lessons

Thanks to rapid programme scale-up, breastfeeding practices remained undisrupted. Key lessons were:

Show footnotes

1Ayoya M et al (2013). Protecting and improving breast feeding practices during a major emergency: lessons learnt from the baby tents in Haiti. Bull World Health Organ 2013;91:612–617

More like this

FEX: Save the Children’s IYCF programme and linkages to Protection, Food Security and Livelihoods in Haiti

A breastfeeding mother who received support in the baby tent By Lucia Pantella Lucia holds a M.Sc. in Humanitarian Programme Management at the Liverpool School of Tropical...

en-net: Breastfeeding Tent Picture

I am currently working on a project to compile an advice leaflet for local charities with the aim of giving them the knowledge and understanding to better support...

FEX: Evaluation of Concern’s response to the Haiti Earthquake

By Andy Featherstone Andy Featherstone is an independent humanitarian research and policy consultant. With significant experience working for NGOs and interagency networks, he...

FEX: The Haiti Earthquake - Country and Global level Cluster Coordination Experiences and Lessons Learnt

By Carmel Dolan and Mija Ververs Carmel Dolan was Global Nutrition Cluster Coordinator-Consultant at the time of the earthquake and located from the UK to UNICEF Headquarters...

FEX: Contributing to the Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCF-E) response in the Philippines: a local NGO perspective

By Romelei Camiling-Alfonso, Donna Isabel S. Capili, Katherine Ann V. Reyes, A.M. Francesca Tatad and Maria Asuncion Silvestre Romelei Camiling-Alfonso has worked for the...

FEX: Infant Feeding in Emergencies: Experiences from Indonesia and Lebanon

By Ali Maclaine and Mary Corbett Ali Maclaine has a MSc in Human Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has been involved in infant feeding and...

FEX: Artificial feeding in emergencies: experiences from the ongoing Syrian crisis

By Suzanne Mboya Suzanne Mboya is a consultant nutritionist. In 2014 she completed a sixth month mission supporting the Syrian crisis IYCF-E response through a partnership...

FEX: Infant Feeding in Emergencies: Recurring Challenges

Published Report By Marie McGrath The importance of infant feeding in emergencies has been highlighted during recent emergencies in countries such as Iraq and Bosnia, where...

FEX: Save the Children’s IYCF-E Rapid Response in Croatia

By Isabelle Modigell, Christine Fernandes and Megan Gayford Isabelle Modigell is the IYCF-E Adviser for the Technical Rapid Response Team (Tech RRT) at Save the Children. She...

FEX: Postscript: Commentary on experiences of IYCF support in the Jordan response

By Ann Burton, Senior Public Health Officer UNHCR Jordan These two articles highlight the challenges in protecting and promoting sound infant and young child feeding (IYCF)...

FEX: Managing infant and young child feeding in refugee camps in Jordan

By Sura Alsamman Sura Alsamman is nutrition supervisor at Save the Children Jordan, responsible for the overall all coordination of the IYCF technical functions and activities...

FEX: Challenges of IYCF and psychosocial support in Lebanon

By Juliette Seguin Juliette Seguin is currently Health and Nutrition Coordinator for ACF Lebanon. She has been working with ACF since 2011 in Haiti, Guinea, Bangladesh, Turkey...

en-net: Ready to Use Infant Formula

There is a ready to use infant formula (RTUIF) that does not require reconstitution with water.In terms of Nutrient Composition, is there any difference compared to the normal...

FEX: Infant feeding in the South Asia earthquake aftermath

By Maaike Arts Maaike Arts was seconded to UNICEF Pakistan in November 2005, until January 2006. Formerly she was Project Officer in Nutrition/Early Childhood Care with UNICEF...

FEX: Increased diarrhoea following infant formula distribution in 2006 earthquake response in Indonesia: evidence and actions

By Fitsum Assefa, Sri Sukotjo (Ninik), Anna Winoto and David Hipgrave Fitsum Assefa is a nutritionist with over 15 years experience working on public nutrition in various...

FEX: Infant and young child feeding support in Lebanon: strengthening the national system

By Pressila Darjani and Linda Shaker Berbari Pressila Derjany is the Infant and Young Child Coordinator at IOCC. She has a B.Sc. in Nutrition and Dietetics. She joined IOCC...

FEX: Emerging cases of malnutrition amongst IDPs in Tal Abyad district, Syria

By Maartje Hoetjes, Wendy Rhymer, Lea Matasci-Phelippeau, Saskia van der Kam Maartje Hoetjes is a Medical member of the MSF emergency team, currently working in South Sudan....

FEX: Putting IFE guidance into practice: operational challenges in Myanmar

By Victoria Sibson Victoria Sibson has been the emergency nutrition adviser for Save the Children UK since April 2007, with a focus on treatment of acute malnutrition and...

FEX: Breastfeeding support in the refugee camps of North Western Tanzania

By Lucas Kulwa Machibya Lucas Machibya has been working for UNHCR since June 1994 in the north-western Tanzania refugee operation as National Public Health Nutrition Officer....

FEX: UNICEF’s perspective on cluster coordination and programme response in Haiti 2010

This postscript is a consolidated response by Nutrition cluster coordination team and UNICEF Nutrition programme staff involved in the Haiti humanitarian response, to some of...

Close

Reference this page

Summary of published experience (2014). Infant feeding support at scale in the Haiti 2010 response. Field Exchange 47, April 2014. p42. www.ennonline.net/fex/47/infant