Shame

29 09 2008

Excerpt from a letter written yesterday to Oxfam, by an aid worker sent to Burma after the cyclone, to help local women relactate:
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“…..baby bottles are impossible to clean for women who are living in poverty. They are often distributed by well meaning humanitarian aid agencies who do not realise that doing so can lead mothers to doubt their ability to adequately nourish their babies by breastfeeding alone.
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For your information I have attached a photograph of a bottle given to me by a mother who was affected by Cyclone Nargis. She mistakenly believed that because she was not eating as much as she had before the cyclone, her 2 month old baby would need to be fed milk from a bottle.

She did not realise that her metabolism would prioritise producing milk for her baby so that even if she became quite malnourished her baby would still grow well on her milk. She did not realise that feeding her baby milk would deprive him of many of antibodies her body was making in response to the poor sanitary conditions in which they both lived and she did not realise that the milk she was feeding him was contaminated and could cause his kidneys to fail. She did not realise that the bottle (and the milk inside) had in all likelihood caused her baby’s bronchitis. She had been using it to feed her baby only 24-36 hours before this photo was taken. The white flecks on the inside of the bottle and on the outside of the teat are maggots.
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There is good evidence that inappropriate infant feeding is responsible for 13% of infant deaths the world over. That is more than are caused by poor sanitation, dirty water or mosquito borne illness. So when I see a bottle being used to promote the Millennium Development Goals, I feel a deep sense of irony and some sadness. Would you consider contacting OXFAM International and perhaps whitebandaction and asking them to reshoot MelB’s spot without the bottle – and perhaps to include some information in the follow-up campaign on the importance of breastfeeding to the achievement of MDGs 1, 4 and 5?”

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One response

30 09 2008
sophiedb

The sight of those maggots makes my stomach churn. How any aid worker could possibly distribute bottles to a breastfeeding mum without giving her accurate advice is beyond me. It’s criminal.

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