The cycle of life repeats even in seemingly impossible situations like the vast and horrendous devastation Super-typhoon Yolanda left in her wake, a shining testament that truly, man will not only survive — he will prevail.
While the death toll is rising across age, gender, and socio-economic stratum, the miracle of life continues to manifest itself in such intolerably harsh location and condition prevailing on “ground zero” of Yolanda’s onslaught — Tacloban City and other parts of Leyte and Samar.
A unit of the United Nations doing relief and rehabilitation work in typhoon-hit provinces in Eastern Visayas has placed the death toll from the calamity to over 4,460.
In its situation report 8, the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said a total of 4,460 people were dead while around 921,200 others were displaced due to the super-typhoon (Haiyan).
The UN-OCHA also pegged the number of people affected by the typhoon to 11.8 million and a total of 243,000 houses destroyed.
And yet, despite of such horrendous loss, some 12,000 babies are still estimated to be born next month in areas that Yolanda had devastated.
World Health Organization country representative Julie Hall said they came up with this estimate based on the demographic statistics in the areas.
“That is the calculation of the number of women in the major hit areas and those women who are likely to give birth in the next month,” Hall was quoted as saying in media reports.
“It is very important that all the reproductive health kits are there so that they could have a clean delivery and the medical service for pregnant women and newborn babies are established very quickly,” she said.
Hall stressed the importance of breastfeeding the newly born to protect them against infection.
But she notes a downside: Lack of safe water:
“At the moment there is very little clean water,” she said.
“Mixing formula with dirty water would be deadly for babies. Breastfeeding babies even at the best of times, even when there is no disaster, is the best thing you could do for a baby. It is absolutely vital that women are supported to breastfeed their babies fully for six months.”
Hall assured mothers that breast milk could give their babies all the nutrition they need.
“You don’t need additional milk formula or food during the first six months of life,” she said. “It will also protect the baby from infection because the mom will give the baby antibodies through the breast milk. And those babies will need that anti-bodies right now.”
Hall said the baby would need antibodies to protect themselves from infection even during good times.
“And, right now, living in this difficult situation at the Yolanda-battered areas, the babies will need as much protection as possible,” she said, adding that the donation of milk formula could discourage women from breastfeeding.[pq]WHO estimates that 22 percent of infant deaths could be prevented if breastfeeding could be initiated in the first hour of a newborn’s life.[/pq]
Breastfeeding is known to reduce the risks of sepsis or blood infection in the first month of life; diarrhea, pneumonia, necrotizing entero-colitis or a gut problem in pre-term babies, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, skin allergies, asthma, leukemia, type 1 diabetes, and obesity.
Breastfeeding mothers can enjoy lower rates of type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, baby blues or post-partum depression.