Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response
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OBJECTIVES OF WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK 2009
To draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide.
To stress the need for active protection and support of breastfeeding before and during emergencies.
To inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, health professionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency.
To mobilise action and nurture networking and collaboration between those with breastfeeding skills and those involved in emergency response.
Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies – child mortality can soar from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhoea, respiratory illness and malnutrition.
Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for the youngest infants. Even in non-emergency settings, non-breastfed babies under 2 months of age are six times more likely to die.
Emergencies can happen anywhere in the world. Emergencies destroy what is ‘normal,’ leaving caregivers struggling to cope and infants vulnerable to disease and death.
During emergencies, mothers need active support to continue or re-establish breastfeeding.
Emergency preparedness is vital. Supporting breastfeeding in non-emergency settings will strengthen mothers’ capacity to cope in an emergency.