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Two International Meetings on Infant Feeding in Emergencies

Recent experiences and dilemmas

At the end of November last year, Save The Children Fund and the Institute of Child Health convened a meeting on "Meeting the nutritional needs of infants during emergencies: recent experiences and dilemmas."* Policy makers and practitioners from a range of key international agencies were invited to draw on their experience to identify ways to improve policy and practice for feeding infants in emergencies. Research conducted in Macedonia was used as a starting point for a wider discussion of current policies, guidelines and operational procedures. A number of mechanisms through which problems may be addressed or prevented in the future were highlighted. One of the major action points developed was the formation of a temporary working group that would take steps towards drafting some basic guidance on infant feeding in emergencies which could in turn be incorporated in some form into existing and forthcoming emergency guidelines and manuals. It is hoped that a draft of basic guidelines could be discussed at the ACC/SCN meeting in Washington in April 2000. Several agencies have agreed to be represented on the working group (WHO, UNICEF, UNHCR, IBFAN, SCF, ICH, WFP and LINKAGES).

 

Review of a training module

Following the SCF/ICH meeting, a three-day meeting was organised by WHO in collaboration with UNICEF, LINKAGES, and IBFAN. The main purpose of the meeting was to review a training module on Infant Feeding in Emergencies. Participants were 'taught ' the module in its draft form, and were asked to comment on its content and structure, and discuss implementation issues and agree on steps forward. There are two parts to the module, the first is targeted at all categories of personnel working or involved in emergency humanitarian situations. This two-hour teaching session broadly covers key issues in infant feeding in emergencies, highlighting problems faced, existing policies and guidelines, and actions to be taken (and not taken). The second part of the module (4 hours) is targeted at those working in emergency situations with a health / nutrition background, to provide them with more detailed knowledge on how best to support appropriate infant feeding, at individual and programmatic levels.

A final draft available for field-testing is expected to be ready by May 2000. Organisers are looking for possible sites/ courses for field-testing. Testing will be carried out in English, by one of the core team members.

For further information contact: Kathy Carter <KYCarter@compuserve.com>, Rebecca Norton <philipec@iprolink.ch> or Lida Lhotska <llhotska@unicef.org>

Show footnotes

*Meeting the nutritional needs of infants during emergencies: recent experiences and dilemmas. Report of an International Workshop held at the Institute of Child Health, London November 1999. McGrath M, Seal A, Taylor A, Gostelow L, 1999.
For details on obtaining copies of the report please contact Anna Taylor, Save The Children (UK) email: A.Taylor@scfuk.org.uk, or Andy Seal, the Institute of Child Health London: a.seal@ich.ucl.ac.uk

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Two International Meetings on Infant Feeding in Emergencies. Field Exchange 9, March 2000. p8. www.ennonline.net/fex/9/two