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Friday, January 29, 2010

Does Haiti Need Our Milk?

Kathy Abbott of "The Curious Lactivist" has vocalized a question that I know many many of us are asking ourselves today. Does Haiti Need our Breastmilk or not?!?

Several news articles have been released stating that Infant Formula is NOT to be sent to Haiti, that the WHO, Unicef and Save the Children are saying that these Haitian babies are in need of breastmilk. After these announcements lactating mothers and milk banks over North America immediately scrambled and came together- pulling in a 1000 oz of fully screened donated breastmilk within 24 hours!! They not only gathered the donated milk, but within 48 hours the frozen liquid gold was on board the USS Comfort- a US ship in Haiti acting as a neonatal unit to many of Haiti's premature and seriously injured and ill babies.....

And yet this shipment was met with snide remarks: “I’m 100 percent sure we didn’t ask for that.” Said Lt. David Shark from the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. He told the press that the idea of distributing human milk was an “unfeasible and unsafe intervention”.

The problem according to Lt. Shark was the “huge logical constraints”. Specifically he pointed out that there was a “lack of cold chain supply, and no clear guidance on ethical issues, breast milk screening, and continuity of supply.” Even Dr. Nune Mangasaryan senior advisor on infant nutrition for UNICEF agreed. “At this point it’s not the recommended way of assisting Haiti. … the systems needed to transport [breast milk] and to deliver it in the country, are not ready at this point. You have to have quite a significant number of freezers, you have to have electricity, and you have to be able to transport it from one part of the country to another. [With the current level of devastation] at this point, donating breast milk isn’t preferable.”

But I have to wonder, if the same helicopter had arrived with a donation of human blood, would the response had been the same? Blood donations also have to be screened, and protected by a “cold chain”. Would lack of freezers, electricity, and transport issues been enough reason for them to turn away two coolers of donated blood? Of course not, there is no viable substitute for human blood. But we live in a culture where infant formula is considered a “safe” alternative to breast milk.

How sad that even the good Dr. Mangasaryan from UNICEF considers infant formula preferable to donated milk. “ At this point what we recommend for them is ready-to-use infant formula, that’s already in a liquid form, meaning no risk of contamination by mixing powdered formula with water, for example. It’s already ready-to-use, and there are certain numbers already available in the country.” It is safe, and it is already available. Why use the real thing when we have a more convenient alternative?

EXACTLY!!!!! So they would rather feed these traumatized, sick and injured babies "Ready to use formula" ..... might I point out to the fine Dr. Mangasaryan that even if the formula is premixed and ready to use.... what are they suppose to do with the bottles after they've been used? How are they to sterilize them? The reason they are using "ready to use" formula is because they cant' guarantee clean water to mix powdered formula- they still need clean water to sterilize a bottle and nipple to get it ready for the next batch of formula for the next baby.

In the mean time, frozen breastmilk is sitting in a freezer on the USS Comfort feeding NO babies while the so called professionals debate ethics about donated breastmilk...... and babies starve across the country. It boggles the mind.

....Apparently we learned absolutely nothing from Katrina.

HERE to read The Curious Lactivists entire article