In this post, Dr. Vera Dimitrievska reports on the status of infant and young child feeding among refugee families in transit along the Balkan Route. In November, 2015, UNICEF reported that 52% of those crossing the borders in the Balkans were women and children. With a lack of access of basic health services and a shortage of translators who speak their native language on this route, many mothers with babies also do not have access to information regarding recommended breastfeeding and safe infant and young child feeding in emergencies practices.
This Guest Post by Dr. Karleen Gribble is the first in a series that will focus on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies. Supporting breastfeeding and ensuring that infants who are not breastfed are protected from the catastrophic risks of formula feeding in emergencies are major global health concerns. Formula feeding is extremely hazardous in emergencies without the resources to protect infants from contaminated water, bottles, and formula powder. Misunderstandings about infant feeding in emergencies increase the likelihood that formula will be given out in ways that are detrimental to breastfeeding. When breastfeeding ends and formula feeding begins, in emergencies, infant mortality rises dramatically. In this guest post, Dr. Gribble describes why mothers who are breastfeeding may request formula.