DOH urges public: stop sending powdered milk to evac centers

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DOH) in the region reminded the public of the dangers of donating powdered milk as relief goods to evacuation sites in and around Marawi City in the midst of the ongoing conflict between government troops and Maute group.

DOH XI regional breastfeeding program coordinator Clarose Mascardo told reporters that the donation of the milk products would go against various health codes, particularly the Milk Code, which encourages exclusive breastfeeding between mothers and their newborns.

Mascardo was one of the guests at the monthly Connect health and wellness forum at the SM Lanang Premier last Friday.

While not directly an attack against powdered milk, the process of preparing the milk could endanger the newborns in the evacuation centers absent the potable sources of water and the hygienic preparations of milk bottles.

“Babies should be exclusively breastfed,” Mascardo said.

Mascardo was reacting to reports that there were groups donating powdered milk products to the evacuation sites in Marawi, Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City.

Fighting in Marawi has entered its second month, with martial law being declared in Mindanao since May 23.

In an earlier interview, DOH Assistant Secretary for the Mindanao Abdullah Dumama, Jr., said the DOH encountered a problem discouraging the public from donating powdered milk for the evacuation centers.

Meanwhile, Mascardo said the health teams coming from regions 9, 11, 12, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have been going around, even conducting house to house surveys, and speaking with pregnant and lactating mothers to check on their feeding practices.

Mascardo lamented that there are still mothers, for example, who insisted that children start receiving solid food as early as four months.

Powdered milk would easily be contaminated especially if there is no safe source of drinking water. The incident monitoring teams on the ground in Marawi note the various water sanitation issues in the area.

In the Matungao evacuation center, for example, the teams there sought assistance in promoting the boiling of water.

In the Buru-un gym evacuation center, the water tank is not elevated enough to be sanitary, while there was no proper bathing facility.

The sanitation teams in Marawi City requested water analysis of the evacuation centers due to the absence of sanitation facilities and running water in some of the areas where the IDPs are staying.

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