Breastfeeding Support During Disaster: The Experience in East Coast Malaysia 2014-2015
Women’s Health Development Unit, School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Although floods are natural disasters that happen regularly during monsoon seasons, the flood that struck in December 2014 was recorded as the worst in Malaysia. Mothers and infants were badly affected as they contributed to a major proportion of the community. They need food, water, shelter, clothing, and medicine, which are usually insufficient during disaster.
It is important to raise awareness that breastfeeding mothers and infants are a special population with unique needs during a disaster. Helping mothers successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding is even more crucial and may save lives. In contrast to powdered formula, which needs to be mixed with water, human milk provides ample hydration and spares infants from exposure to water contaminated during the destruction caused by natural disasters. Direct breastfeeding also prevents the illnesses attributable to bottles and nipples “washed” in unclean water.
This presentation serves to demonstrate our experience and challenges in supporting mothers and infants during the recent flood disaster in East Coast Malaysia.