Breastfeeding ‘critical’ to baby’s survival in calamity areas
Save the Children says breastmilk is the 'most powerful defense' against disease, illness, and death in times of disaster

MOTHER'S MILK. May-Joy and her two week old daughter Ariana in their home which was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan but has since been repaired, Panay Island, Philippines. Photo by Evan Schuurman/Save the Children

MANILA, Philippines – With thousands of victims competing for aid and exposed to possible diseases, infants and newborns can be protected by going back to basics: their mothers’ milk.

An international children’s organization said on Friday, November 22, that breastfeeding is critical to the survival of babies in areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). (READ: Breastfeeding Yolanda babies: The soldier as proxy mom)

Save the Children said in a news release that breastmilk is the “most powerful defense” that can guard children from disease, illness, and death in times of disaster, like the recent typhoon that brought devastation to several provinces in the Visayas. In emergencies like this, infants and children are the most vulnerable and at risk.  (READ: Breastfeeding in time of crisis)

The aid organization said breastfeeding boosts the health of newborn babies as the milk fortifies their immune system. Baby formula, on the other hand, does not contain the same amount of nutrients. Keeping feeding bottles sterilized can be hard and finding clean water is difficult especially in heavily affected and damaged areas.

Save the Children’s advisor for nutrition in emergencies Jesse Hartness said a mother’s breastmilk can provide her infant with complete nutrition and protection from diarrhea and other illnesses.

“Breastfeeding is the world’s most powerful defense when it comes to saving children’s lives. It actually builds children’s immune system and strengthens their future protection against illnesses and malnutrition,” Hartness said. (READ: Why you should care about breastfeeding)

Save the Children has been delivering aid to vulnerable victims of Typhoon Yolanda, especially children. It has deployed at least 100 staff members for relief operations. The organization also launched an appeal for US$50 million to address the needs of a targeted 500,000 people.

The relief operations team continues to send aid to critically hit areas especially Leyte, particularly in Tacloban City and Ormoc, and Panay Island. Aid from this organization focuses on children’s education and protection, food security and livelihood, health and nutrition, shelter, water sanitation and hygiene. – Karen Liao/

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