Ensure baby-friendly evacuation centers during Ruby – DOH
MANILA, Philippines – With over one million people in evacuation centers due to Tropical Storm Ruby (international name: Hagupit), the health department wants to ensure these centers are conducive to breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
On Monday, December 8, the Department of Health (DOH) issued guidelines encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months old.
According to the department, breastfeeding is important especially during disasters because a mother’s breastmilk is a safe and readily available food for the baby. Breastfeeding is also an effective way to prevent diarrhea, malnutrition, and other diseases.
"The DOH is working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and local health authorities to ensure that evacuation centers are mother- and baby-friendly,” DOH said in its 3rd Typhoon Ruby bulletin on Monday.
Ruby was downgraded to a tropical storm late Monday morning, 4 days after it first entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) as a typhoon.
Ahead of Ruby, DOH created a “buddy system,” wherein regional offices and hospitals spared by the tropical storm will assist 5 regions: Mimaropa, Bicol, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, and Eastern Visayas.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 1,034,464 persons are still in evacuation centers as of Monday evening.
The health department on Monday directed its officials to coordinate with local health authorities in providing free anti-measles vaccines, anti-polio vaccines, and Vitamin A capsules in evacuation centers. These are for children aged 6 months old up to below 5 years old.
Earlier, DOH said all pregnant women in evacuation centers expected to give birth within the month should be transferred to the nearest government hospital.
It also reiterated the “No Milk Donation” policy, after the department had seen increase in gastroenteritis cases in the past due to the use of donated milk formulas.
"These reminders are being issued to ensure that people in [Tropical Storm] Ruby-affected areas remain disease-free and to prevent the spread of disease and its complications,” the department added.
Ruby is expected to exit PAR on Wednesday evening, December 10. – Rappler.com