Infant and young child feeding in emergencies: Organisational policies and activities during the refugee crisis in Lebanon.

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Abstract

Appropriate infant and young child feeding (IYCF) is key to reducing mortality amongst children aged under 2. Facilitating adherence to recommended IYCF practices during emergencies includes having relevant policies to support breastfeeding and complementary feeding as well as regulating the distribution of breast milk substitutes. In the current crisis, more than 1.2 million Syrian refugees are in Lebanon and it is timely to examine organisational IYCF policies and programmes. One hundred and thirty-five non-governmental organisations providing humanitarian aid in Lebanon were invited to participate in an online survey about organisational policies and programmatic activities on IYCF. Responses were obtained from 54 organisations: 29 International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and 25 Local Non-Governmental Organisations (LNGOs). In total, 8 (15%) reported having a written policy on IYCF, but only 1 policy (in draft format) was available for inspection. Twelve (8 INGOs and 4 LNGOs) indicated endorsing an external IYCF policy, but only 6 listed a valid policy. Four organisations (3 INGOs and 1 LNGO) had programme objectives that indicate protection, promotion, and support of IYCF. Three LNGOs reported receiving infant formula donations and 5 organisations (2 INGOs and 3 LNGOs) indicated distributing infant formula; 2 (1 INGO and 1 LNGO) did so in accordance with international and national policies. Few organisations violated IYCF guidance but organisational policies and activities on IYCF are not well established. In order to improve response in the current refugee crisis in Lebanon, there is a need to ensure policies are in place and implemented so that interventions support, promote, and protect IYCF.

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