No milk donations, NNC advises public, members of civil society

The public particularly organizations that solicit or intend to donate milk for victims of disasters and emergencies are advised of the NO MILK DONATION POLICY of the National Nutrition Council. The NNC issued this advisory because it has come to its attention that members from civil society including media and other groups with well-meaning intentions continue to call for donations for powdered milk.

The Nutrition Cluster said there should be no donations of breast milk substitutes (BMS), such as infant formula, other milk products, bottle-fed complementary foods represented for use in children up to 2 years of age; complementary foods, juices, teas represented for use in infants under six months; and bottles and teats. This is in compliance to Executive Order 51 or the Milk Code and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations.

Milk donations are detrimental to the health and nutrition of infants and young children in times of disasters and emergencies, Artificial feeding using milks other than breast milk is not safe due to lack of supply of clean water, fuel for sterilization and boiling, utensils, among others. Diarrhea is one of the biggest dangers to babies who are given artificial feeding during emergencies which could lead to death.

DOH Administrative Order (AO) 2006-0014 or the “National Policies on Infant and Young Children” indicates that in times of crisis, breastfeeding is the first and best feeding option for infants and young children and that mothers and babies should remain together and provided with support to be able to feed appropriately even under difficult circumstances. Likewise, DOH AO 2007-0017, “Guidelines on the Acceptance and Processing of Foreign and Local Donations during Emergency and Disaster Situations”, states that “Infant formula, breastmilk substitutes, feeding bottles, artificial nipples, and teats shall not be items for donation.”

BMS should be used only under strict control and monitoring and in hygienic conditions, and in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, Milk Code in the Philippines, and Policy on the Acceptance of Processed Local and Foreign Donations and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions, as well as humanitarian agencies’ policies and guidelines. There should be no general distribution of BMS and/or powdered milk. Should donation of milk products exist, this should be coursed through the nearest office of the Department of Health or local health office. (Source: NNC)