Friday, July 28, 2006

Why the constant call for infant formula in emergencies, the most dangerous setting for its use?

I just read “For him, combat zone is office-Relief worker from Capital Region says human needs outweigh dangers in Lebanon" By PAUL GRONDAHL, Staff writer Albany Times Union, Thursday, July 27, 2006 in which he covers the good works of the Catholic Relief Services/Caritas in Lebanon.
While noting that "Suffering civilians are suffering civilians, and we intend to help them'' he notes, “The need is acute for water, food, infant formula, medical supplies and sanitary products” and that “The logistics of distributing relief supplies in a country whose infrastructure has been reduced to rubble and where trucks face the danger of being bombed [is] an ongoing challenge.”
So I wrote to the fine reporter who covered this humanitarian activity as follows:

Dear Paul:
I am startled and concerned about the constant call for infant formula whenever there is an emergency. The use of infant formula in emergency settings is a high risk activity, where fuel and cleanliness are rare and diseases rampant. These are times when the anti-infection components of human milk are even more important, and associated with increased survival.

While I do not have the data for Lebanon, the data from surrounding countries show that the vast majority of infants are breastfed throughout the first year. In an emergency, the mother can produce more milk as the child needs, if she is protected and fed - which should be a priority. It is cheaper, easier and safer to feed the mom, and breastfeed the infant, for the health and survival of them both.

Please let me know if there is any way to get this message out to the readership.

Best wishes,
Miriam

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