Philippines

Breastfeeding pushed in evacuation centers during disasters

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By: Miriam P. Aquino

SAN FERNANDO CITY, July 31 (PIA) – Nutrition experts have advised nursing mothers to continue breasfeeding babies in evacuation areas instead of turning to infant formula milk which is not allowed in temporary shelters.

Ma. Eileen C. Blanco, Nutrition Council regional nutrition program coordinator, said mothers should continue breasfeeding despite harsh conditions in evacuation centers.

“Infant formula in these areas (are not allowed) in compliance to Executive Order 51 or the Milk Code. Though in reality, evacuation centers are flooded with milk donations during disasters,” Blanco added.

The council noted that malnutrition incidence increases in evacuation centers due to scarcity of food.

“When breastfeeding mothers are under stress, their milk production decreases,” she added.

“Life in evacuation areas is not normal but parents, particularly mothers, should understand that this is just temporary. Sooner or later, everything will go back to normal, ” Blanco said.

As part of the Nutrition Month celebration, the council partnered with Ajinomoto culinary expert to teach the Pantawid Pamilya (4Ps) beneficiaries, mothers, barangay officials, health workers, media, and line-agency representatives on how to cook a variety of recipes using sardines and noodles as the primary ingredients notimg that these are the most common food items available in evacuation centers.

"(When taken frequently) sardines and noodles become unhealthy because of too much sodium content and preservatives," the nutrition officer said.

The NNC also monitors the functionality of nutrition clusters in the barangays which play a big role to nutrition in the community.

They are the frontliners who have direct access to barangay folks and are more knowledgeable as to who should be given priority. They are tapped by NNC to identify the primary needs of the people in disaster areas and also monitors the continuous practice of breastfeeding among lactating mothers.

Blanco also reminded other basic needs like hygienic products - towel, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, blankets, clothes which should be included in the list of goods for distribution to evacuees during disaster. (MCA/MPA/PIA1 La Union)