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Challenges to the Programmatic Implementation of Ready to Use Infant Formula in the Post-Earthquake Response, Haiti, 2010: A Program Review
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  • Description:
    Background and Objectives

    Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, infant and young child feeding was identified as a priority nutrition intervention. A new approach to support breastfeeding mothers and distribute ready-to-use infant formula (RUIF) to infants unable to breastfeed was established. The objective of the evaluation was to assess the implementation of infant feeding programs using RUIF in displaced persons camps in Port-au-Prince, Haiti during the humanitarian response.

    Methods

    A retrospective record review was conducted from April–July, 2010 to obtain data on infants receiving RUIF in 30 baby tents. A standardized data collection form was created based on data collected across baby tents and included: basic demographics, admission criteria, primary caretaker, feeding practices, and admission and follow-up anthropometrics.

    Main Findings

    Orphans and abandoned infants were the most frequent enrollees (41%) in the program. While the program targeted these groups, it is unlikely that this is a true reflection of population demographics. Despite programmatic guidance, admission criteria were not consistently applied across programs. Thirty-four percent of infants were undernourished (weight for age Z score <−2) at the time of admission. Defaulting accounted for 50% of all program exits and there was no follow-up of these children. Low data quality was a significant barrier.

    Conclusions

    The design, implementation and magnitude of the ‘baby tents’ using RUIF was novel in response to infant and young child feeding (IYCF) in emergencies and presented multiple challenges that should not be overlooked, including adherence to protocols and the adaption of emergency programs to existing programs. The implementation of IYCF programs should be closely monitored to ensure that they achieve the objectives set by the humanitarian community and national government. IYCF is an often overlooked component of emergency preparedness; however to improve response, generic protocols and pre-emergency training and preparedness should be established for humanitarian agencies.

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