The NNC advises the public particularly organizations that solicit or intend to donate milk for victims of disasters and emergencies of the NO MILK DONATION POLICY. It has come to the attention of the NNC that members from civil society including media even with well-meaning intentions continue to call for donations for powdered milk. Donations of breastmilk substitutes including infant formula, powdered milk and other milk; feeding bottles, teats and commercial baby food are not allowed and that these should not be part of general distribution of emergency food packs. This is in compliance to Executive Order 51 or The Milk Code and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations.
The government does not allow milk donations as these 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. Uncontrolled distribution of breastmilk substitutes can lead to early and unnecessary cessation of breastfeeding.
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. No acceptance of donation shall be issued for any of the enumerated items.”
At all times, breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding should be promoted, protected and supported but most especially during disasters and emergencies. As a general rule, the DOH prescribes the feeding options for infants and young children in difficult circumstance: (1) breastfeeding is the first and best option for infants, (2) expressed breastmilk, fed by cup; (3) breastfeeding from healthy wet nurse; and (4) human milk from milk bank, fed by cup. Should these options become unavailable, the last option is to feed by cup infant formula (unlabeled) which should be only under the supervision of health and nutrition workers and prepared centrally.
The national government, local government units, civil society and other stakeholders should abide by and implement these policies for the welfare of affected populations specifically infants and young children. Health workers are reminded to not accept and distribute breastmilk substitutes.