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Infant feeding in disasters - A call for awareness (WBW)

Author: American Public Health Association
Resource type: News

www.apha.org/membergroups/newsletters/sectionnewsletters/matern/spring08/infantfeedisaster.htm

Title: INFANT FEEDING IN DISASTERS: A CALL FOR AWARENESS

Author:

Section/SPIG: Maternal and Child Health

Issue Date:

With the recent disasters in Myanmar and China, and numerous news and media portrayals of babies born in shelters (Myanmar, CNN International, May 13, 2008) to hungry and displaced mothers, we must reflect on the ongoing issue of infant feeding in a disaster situation. International maternal and child health advocates, lactation professionals and those who work closely with the relief/aid community have seen the carnage that results from indiscriminate distribution of infant formula, as well as the natural consequences of not initiating breastfeeding and/or continued breastfeeding. Opportunities to bring awareness to the importance of breastfeeding exist through preparedness programs, public health messages, maternal and child health care programs and a one-week international celebration each year.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) initiates the international awareness campaign each year with a global theme for what is known as World Breastfeeding Week. Previous themes have included:

2007: Breastfeeding in the 1st Hour – Save ONE Million Babies;
2006: Code Watch (WHO Code): 25 Years of Protecting Breastfeeding; and 2003:Breastfeeding in a Globalized World for Peace and Justice.

Although an Olympic theme has already been chosen for World Breastfeeding Week 2008, as maternal and child health leaders we should urge WABA to consider having a theme on breastfeeding in emergencies for 2009. We must encourage other programs to keep this issue at the forefront -- with the threat of a future pandemic, and the always present risk of hurricanes and other natural disasters, the topic will always be timely. This is in keeping with APHA policy 200714, Nov. 6, 2007, entitled: A Call to Action on Breastfeeding: A Fundamental Public Health Issue.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the international organization which sets the theme for WBW each year, can be reached at: PO Box 1200, 10850  Penang, Malaysia, Telephone: 604-6584816, Fax: 604-6572655. E-mail: wabapenang@yahoo.com OR waba2008@gmail.com, and visit their Web site to learn more at www.waba.org.my.

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American Public Health Association (2008). Infant feeding in disasters - A call for awareness (WBW). www.ennonline.net/infantfeedingdisastersawareness

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