Formula distribution in Myanmar:

Here is a Facebook page shows  free distribution of Nature One formula (follow-up) in Myanmar. The actress Khine Hnin Wai who runs a charity orphanage (who also appears to be the brand ambassador), says in the video that the company gave 3,500,000,000 MMK worth (10,000 tins of formula).

Joint Statement by Myanmar Nutrition Cluster 24-03-2022

Above: Hero (the  manufacturer of infant formula Sunar) proudly boasts about its donation of  2.5 million CZK (about 100.000 EUR) from the Czech Republic to Ukraine.

IYCE Hub for more information

Infographic on donations

 

Ukraine emergency: why formula donations can be a risk and how companies capitalise on emergencies

We are all shocked and horrified by the news from Ukraine and want to do whatever we can to help.  Many people are sending donations of all kinds and baby food companies are starting to donate large quantities of formula, sometimes through NGOs.  The Joint Statement by UNICEF and the Infant Feeding in Emergency group is a timely reminder that however well-meaning, donations of breastmilk substitutes, bottles, teats and pumps and other foods for babies can carry risks and that sending money can be much safer and more effective.  UN agencies agree that during emergencies infant feeding supplies should be “purchased, distributed and used according to strict criteria”.   

Why is this? 

  • Donations of baby feeding products can undermine efforts to protect breastfeeding – a practice that is resilient and provides food, care, immune support and protection from the worst of emergency conditions. 
  • There is are common misconceptions about breastfeeding and stress. As the joint statement says: “Although stress can temporarily interfere with the flow of breast milk in some women, it is not likely to inhibit breast milk production, provided mothers and infants remain together and are supported to initiate and continue frequent breastfeeding.”
  • The cost of shipping large heavy tins of formula wastes resources. Giving cash to trusted organisations who can distribute the appropriate formula on the spot is safer.
  • Donated products may not be the right stage or type, instructions may not be adequate or in the correct language and labels may carry false claims.
  • Families hiding in shelters or on the move often don’t have any way to boil water to prepare formula safely. During emergencies, formula can make some babies ill and should only be used when needed.
  • Babies are at great risk of water-related diseases, with diarrhoeal disease the second biggest killer of under-fives. 

Operational Guidance on Infant Feeding in Emergencies, 2017, Interagency Working Group on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies

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UKRAINE and Infant and Young Child feeding

JOINT STATEMENT of Ministry of Health of Ukraine, UNICEF Ukraine and WHO Country Office in Ukraine Concerning Support Necessary to Ensure Proper Infant and Young Child Feeding in Ukraine In 2014, the Government of Ukraine put out this joint Statement with WHO and UNICEF asking organisations and individuals not to donate breastmilk substitutes.

UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative in Ukraine 29th July 2020.  UNICEF and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine initiated a public discussion on legislation to protect and support breastfeeding in public and workplace in line with EU standards and practices in the sectors of employment, social policy and equal opportunities, and  the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, with the incorporation of the International Code into national legislation and the aggregation of breastfeeding-friendly jobs and programmes as a priority.  “Results from a survey conducted in 2012 indicated that in Ukraine only 19.7 per cent of children are exclusively breastfed1, which is low in comparison with the Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional estimate of 33 per cent1,” said Laura Bill, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Ukraine. “In comparison, rates of early initiation of breastfeeding (66 per cent) appear slightly higher in Ukraine than in the region (57 per cent). However, as support from the Government for giving every child the best start in life is limited, as well as because of aggressive marketing campaigns from producers of breast milk substitutes, the rate of early initiation of breastfeeding in Ukraine is sharply declining. Stopping breastfeeding at an early age increases the risk of children becoming overweight and obese, and also threatens their physical and intellectual development in later life.”

Child poverty and disparities in Ukraine.  Analytical report. 2021  This report makes ten recommendations for poverty reduction and the promotion of equal opportunities for children in Ukraine

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IBFAN has been working to ensure a coordinated approach to infant and young child feeding in emergencies since the 1980s and we have been a core member of the Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group since 1999. The IFE is  multi-agency body  that has developed numerous resources and international guidance on safer infant feeding in emergencies.   Please consider directing cash donations directly to them.  Click Here for  IFE resources

Many of the IFE members are also members of the  Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)  that has a special Ukraine Appeal CLICK HERE.   The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the World Health Assembly  Resolutions are all the more important in emergencies. Monitoring and reporting Code violations in emergency situations are key components of all emergency responses.

Links to older blogs.

 

Food Safety in the archives

With recent worries about the possibility of contamination from nuclear power stations in Ukraine, there will inevitably be concerns about safety of breastmilk and baby foods  and we are hoping that WHO,  UNICEF,  the Infant feeding in Emergencies and health authorities will be able to provide guidance.  Over the years IBFAN has followed this issue closely. IBFAN GIFA website. 

Here is a page from a 1988 Baby Milk Action newsletter following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.  At the time we worked closely with an investigated journalist, Felicity Arbuthnot, who was tracking the  dumping of contaminated products.

 

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