Breastfeeding in Disaster Relief Camps
Our current featured article addresses a health challenge that has become far too common in our era of climate change. The article is titled Breastfeeding in Disaster Relief Camps: An Integrative Review of Literature by Shela Akbar Ali Hirani, BScN, MScN, IBCLC, RN; Solina Richter, RN, DCur; Bukola Oladunni Salami, MN, PhD, RN; and Helen Vallianatos, PhD. We invite you to download this article at no charge while it is featured, and return here to share your thoughts for discussion. Shela Hirani prepared this information about her work for ANS blog readers:
Protecting breastfeeding practices of women is essential to reduce the number of child deaths and illnesses during emergency response. Disaster relief camps are one of the most vulnerable settings for mothers and young children where women are exposed to the risk of discontinuing their breastfeeding practices. In low middle-income countries like Pakistan where infant and child mortality is high, disasters and internal displacements result in a further increase in infant mortality and morbidity rates caused by suboptimal breastfeeding practices and subsequent rise of childhood malnutrition. To examine the factors that affect breastfeeding practices of displaced mothers in disaster relief camps, an integrative review of the literature was undertaken.
The review suggests that the breastfeeding experiences, behaviors, and practices of displaced mothers are shaped by a combination of gender-based, sociocultural, economic, and geopolitical factors. The literature review revealed gaps in knowledge on facilitators and barriers that shape the breastfeeding practices of displaced mothers residing in disaster relief in Pakistan. In view of the vulnerability of displaced mothers and rising child mortality rates in disaster relief camps in Pakistan, this review suggests a pressing need to explore a wide range of factors affecting breastfeeding practices of internally displaced mothers in the disaster relief camps in Pakistan. Research in this area is essential to design and execute context-specific and need-based programs, policies, and practices to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding practices of internally displaced mothers in disaster relief camps in Pakistan.
A thorough understanding of wide range of factors affecting breastfeeding practices of displaced mothers will develop nursing knowledge, guide future research by nurses involve in care of mothers and young children in disaster relief camps, and facilitate key stakeholders (health care professionals, policy makers and relief agencies) to develop context-specific supportive interventions, improve breastfeeding practices in relief camps, and potentially decrease deaths of young children.
In the year 2018, I travelled to the Northern region in Pakistan (Chitral) where thousands of families affected by natural disasters are residing in a variety of temporary settlements (disaster relief camps), mainly tents, transitional shelter and huts built out of mud and brick. I undertook a critical ethnographic study to examine the facilitators and barriers to breastfeeding practices of internally displaced mothers residing in disaster relief camps in Pakistan.