Increasingly over the last several years, mothers and infants have been affected by a variety of emergency situations world-wide
- Armed conflicts displace millions of families and cut them off from their usual food supplies. There are some 50 million refugees around the word. Eighty percent of them are women and children.
- Natural disasters also create short or long-term refugees and make access to food very difficult for sufficient time to endanger the most vulnerable of those affected – the ill, the elderly and young children. Crop failures, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tidal waves, typhoons and volcanic eruptions can destroy a country’s infrastructure and the livelihoods of those who weren’t killed outright.
- In many cases the immediate problem of securing food is complicated by outbreaks of illnesses such as cholera, diphtheria and malaria following disruption of power, water and sewage services.
In all of these situations, breastfeeding is the safest, often the ONLY reliable choice for infants and small children. Not infrequently, it is life-saving. Yet misinformation, both among those families affected and among the staffs of humanitarian aid agencies often minimizes the importance of breastfeeding for babies in emergencies and allows infant formula donations to dominate the appeals for help. However well-meaning, this compromises both the immediate and long-term health of the children affected.
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