mr tog and I will be donating money to these two orgs today:
* Médecins Sans Frontières Australia
* Australian Red Cross Haiti Appeal
Obviously, there are many other relief orgs doing good work in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake disaster. Please mention any that you know of and recommend in comments.
NB Felix Salmon points out that money per se is not the biggest problem in Haiti at the moment, and that orgs such as the Red Cross, MSF/DWB and UNICEF are probably going to get so much money earmarked to Haiti that they won’t be able to spend it in 10 years. Consider making your donation to relief orgs unrestricted rather than earmarked for Haiti so that it can be in their general fund to be used for ongoing projects as well as smaller disasters elsewhere that don’t get the same media storm.
I tend to push UNICEF, because they’re one organisation with a long track record of not killing babies on the ground by dumping formula on them.
Very little infant formula is actually needed during this sort of relief effort, and what there is should be sourced locally and administered responsibly. Far more important is safe spaces and nutritional support for mothers, information and support for relactation (and in some situations adoption/cross-nursing), information on how to safely express and feed (never from a bottle, only from a cup or spoon).
Giving out formula, especially formula from another country, leads to increased hospitalisations and deaths of babies, and increased future poverty for women whose milk supplies are disrupted. Before someone says “But HIV!”, in circumstances with bad sanitation, exclusive breastfeeding from an HIV-infected woman is substantially safer than formula feeding or mixed feeding. Guidelines on breastfeeding with HIV have just recently changed to reflect this.
Yet already there are a series of organisations collecting donations of infant formula and feeding bottles, shouting about how the poor babies need “baby milk”; it won’t be long before infant formula companies, if they aren’t already, dump a bunch of stock in the hope of further drumming up the Haiti market, which has been relatively resistant so far.
Further reading: Protecting Infants in Emergencies media guide
info on Myths that put babies at risk
Formula milk “dangerous” as humanitarian aid
Other members of the IFE Core Group, who enact the principles needed to protect babies and mothers in emergencies, can be found here. The Resources section has further reading.
Here’s another. Partners in Health has done a lot of work in Haiti for a long time, and was founded by a public health hero of mine, Paul Farmer.
Yes, I’ve heard that Partners in Health is a good one, because they have existing not-destroyed infrastructure in Haiti.
For those you know who need a bit of incentive, the author and blogger Kit Whitfield is writing personalised short stories for anyone who donates over ten pounds to the appeal.
And sure enough, Nestlé has just announced its intention to truck liquid “supplements” and milk into the scene, completely against the evidence-based advice and protocols of the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Emergency Nutrition Network, and a variety of other reputable aid agencies.
In their announcement, Nestlé also boasts about its “strong presence” in Haiti. Epidemics will spread, babies will die and mothers will lose children and/or be relegated to further poverty because of their actions, just like after the tsunami. And Nestlé KNOW it, and they don’t care; it’s just another opportunity for publicity and profit. Arseholes. I knew it was going to happen, but I still feel ill.
I googled Supligen the ‘milk’ based drink Nestle are trucking in from the above link. To me is sounds gross but i don’t like the taste of soy faux milk, but if there was nothing else then yeah I’d drink it.
It seems it is a common drink there, I couldn’t find any info for or against it, but please give me the links.
The websites are Carribbean based and focused on selling the cans.
I’m not trying to give Nestle a free pass here, I know the history but are they pushing this just for babies or something that the local people know and will accept as food..ish.
(i spent only a month on Carriacou doing turtle research, you buy and eat fresh when you can and a whole lot of canned stuff…if the boat turns up)