During emergencies and mass displacements, the protection, promotion, and support of optimal infant and young child feeding practices is a priority lifesaving intervention. This is very relevant in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
IDA is running an integrated Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) and Community Moderate Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) program in the formal and informal camps for the internally displaced in Azaz district in Northern Aleppo countryside.
IDA’s goal is to improve maternal, newborn, and children under five health and nutrition status among the displaced population in the camps in Northern Aleppo.
IDA runs three designated IYCF centers in Al Rayyan, Shamarekh and Bab Al Iman camps which include mother and baby friendly spaces, psychosocial support services and breastfeeding areas.
In the first place, IDA’s trained staff goes on active case finding. The community health workers screen all children for infant feeding difficulties, and screen children under 5 for under-nutrition/acute malnutrition.
Any cases identified as needing IYCF support are either referred to the camp’s IYCF center for psychosocial support and counseling, or to the camp’s Primary Health Care (PHC) center where we apply the CMAM program to receive supplementary/therapeutic feeding.
Likewise, the doctors in the PHC refer the women to the IYCF center if they encounter a breastfeeding or complementary feeding problem.
Meanwhile, community health workers mobilise the pregnant and lactating women and fathers of infants in the camps to initiate exclusive breastfeeding. Brochures informing mothers that babies should normally be exclusively breastfed from birth to 6 months of age, and what kinds of foods to feed infants afterwards, are distributed throughout the community and put up in medical centers.
Keeping the community informed and engaged also means it is a collective effort to report and act upon uncontrolled breastmilk substitute (BMS) distributions in the camps.
“Breastmilk makes the world healthier, smarter, and more equal”