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Following the terrible events in Mexico, our IBFAN colleagues in Latin America prepared an appeal to the Secretary of Health, Mexico, to protect breastfeeding in this difficult situation.
Sept 9. The same day that the 8.1 grades earthquake devastated many regions of Oaxaca and Chiapas, Nestlé was presenting its new products in Monterrey during a gala night with hundreds of pediatricians as guests. We are getting reports that Nestlé is sending unsolicited supplies of formula for disaster relief in Morelos.
The appeal asks the Health Secretary to “Refrain from requesting, accepting, donating or distributing breastmilk substitutes and feeding bottles” and to offer adequate support to mothers and their infants in the emergency situation the country is facing. Page down if you would like to endorse the letter.
The English translation of the appeal is below. Send the name of your group/organization and the name of the person that endorses to: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also endorse in your individual capacity by adding your name to the list of individuals such as Cesar Victoria that tops the lists of supporters – just send your name to email@example.com
Appeal to the Secretary of Health, Mexico to protect breastfeeding
Dr. José Narro Robles
Secretary for Health
As part of this emergency, all the civilian and academic institutions and organisations that sign this letter wish to bring to you our deep concern for infants and young children. They are a highly vulnerable group which requires special priority measure and special care, due to their needs and to the immediate risks they are exposed to, and because of the long-term repercussions of measures now implemented to care for them.
The best protected minors in any disaster situation are those who are being breastfed. Breastfeeding protects agains the heightened risk of potential use of breastmilk substitutes and feeding bottles. This is particularly important when water is scarce or is contaminated, where there are no clean spaces to prepare, administer and conserve formulas. When infants cease to be breastfed, the risk of infections, malnutrition and death increases. Furthermore, young children are at a crucial stage of growth and development. The nutritional stress they suffer impacts their metabolic programming and thus exposes them to even greater risk of contracting chronic diseases later on in life.
For these reasons and recognizing your leadership in the National Strategy for Breastfeeding, we respectfully request that you urgently and publicly appeal to health care providers and institutions at all levels of government, to civil and philanthropic organisations, to the media, to coordinators of reception centres and those responsible for shelters for people affected, to promote and protect breastfeeding during the present emergency, by implementing the following measures in line with the international guidelines for infant feeding in emergencies promoted by WHO and UNICEF:
- Refrain from requesting, accepting, donating or distributing breastmilk substitutes and feeding bottles.
- Identify all pregnant women and mothers of children under three, in order to provide them with support and guidance for breastfeeding without problems and to instruct them on the dangers of using formulas and bottles, as well as the benefits of breastfeeding during the emergency.
- For minors who exceptionally require artificial feeding, ensure access to clean drinking water, utensils and fuel for the preparation of breastmilk substitutes under medical supervision.
To encourage the setting up of special spaces in shelters so that women and mothers with children under two years can breastfeed comfortably, can drink water and rest, and prepare fresh and hygienic food for children over six months old, supported by professional staff or volunteers trained to support breastfeeding.
Lastly, it is important to remember that all coordination actions aimed at promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding must be carried out in a collaborative framework free from conflicts of political, economic or any other kind of interests.
We respectfully salute you by reiterating our commitment to work in the best interests of children and to cooperate with the actions of the Ministry of Health to overcome this delicate moment for Mexico.
- Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria
- Asociación de Consultores Certificados en Lactancia Materna
- Centro de Capacitación en Ecología y Salud para los Campesinos
- COA Nutrición
- Comisión Nacional de Protección Social en Salud
- Comité Promotor de una Maternidad Segura y Voluntaria en Chiapas
- International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)
- Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán
- Instituto Nacional de Salud Pública
- Proyecto Alimente
- Save the Children
- Universidad Iberoamericana
- Universidad de Yale
- Un Kilo de Ayuda A.C.
- Centro Feminista de Información y Acción (CEFEMINA)
- Red Unida por la Madres, sus Bebés y su Alimento (RUMBA)
- Coordinadora Nacional de Lucha por una Vida Digna
- Mujer No Estás Sola
- Comisión Nacional de Lactancia Materna Costa Rica
- Asociación Pro Lactancia Materna (APROLAMA)
- Centro Internacional de Equidade em Saúde da UFPEL
- Comisión Nacional de Lactancia Materna Panamá
Spanish version: Carta al Dr Narro_Lactancia Emergenvia_Final
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