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Breastfeeding for infant survivors of Typhoon Haiyan urged

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 3rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The World Health Organization are urging Filipino mothers in the areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan to breastfeed their children. Both the organization, along with UNICEF said in a statement that the estimated 12,000 babies born in the worst-affected areas this month need to be exclusively breastfed to protect them from potentially deadly infections.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The uncontrolled distribution and use of infant formula in emergency situations like this - where there are serious water and sanitation challenges and other disease risks - is extremely dangerous.

"Supporting breastfeeding is one of the most important things we can do to protect babies in areas of the Philippines hit by the typhoon," Dr Julie Hall, WHO representative in the Philippines said.

The United Nations also declared that "urgent funding" is needed for those who were displaced. "The needs of the affected communities are becoming more obvious," Luiza Carvalho, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator said in a statement.

Filipino families are faced with a loss of their homes and livelihoods and urgently require sustained assistance to help them meet their daily needs. "Providing shelter and rebuilding lives is an urgent priority," Carvalho added.

Material is desperately needed to prevent the spread of disease in typhoon-stricken areas. "As people struggle to rebuild their lives, they require essential items such as construction material, mosquito nets, bed kits and solar lighting for safety," Marco Boasso of the International Organization for Migration says. 

The need for immediate agricultural help to affected regions is especially important. Unless farmers are able to sow rice during the ongoing planting season, they will have no rice harvest in March and April, which will jeopardize household food security, nutrition and income generation.

"Hundreds of thousands of families have lost everything. We will continue to prioritize their needs as they move in to a new year," Carvalho says.

Appealing to the international community for continued support "in the days and months ahead," the Office of Civil Defense says the number of fatalities due to the typhoon has reached 5,598 people as of last Friday.

Aside from the fatalities, some 26,100 are also reported injured and nearly 1,800 others are still missing. Haiyan affected 11 million people in 12,000 villages in 44 provinces.

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