Infant feeding in time of crisis: is Italy ready?

The National Centre for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CNaPPS) of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), that is the national institute of health in Italy, will be hosting a conference (Rome; October 2018, 8th) in collaboration with Save the Children and UNICEF-Italy on how breastfeeding and infant feeding can be protected, promoted and supported in case of humanitarian emergencies and natural catastrophes. This scientific event(*) is conceived in continuity with the training course that was developed on June 2018, 12th and 13th at ISS and aims at further exploiting both the multistakeholder method as well as contents previously debated. Conference participants are in fact identified as representatives of national and international associations, local authorities, and healthcare services and agencies.

After welcoming and opening by the Italian Minister of health, ISS leading figures (Prof. Walter Ricciardi, President and Angela Spinelli, Director of the CNaPPS), Raffaela Milano from Save the Children-Italy and Giuseppina Maria Surace representing UNICEF Italy, Julianne Williams from the Regional Office for Europe-WHO introduces the general scenario in matter of nutrition and health in Europe, with particular concern to the crucial first 1000 days of life. Two institutional speeches on policies promoted by the Italian Ministry of Health follow: Serena Battilomo and Riccardo Davanzo reason about, respectively, actions, strategies and early investment for health and the specific support to breastfeeding.

Angela Giusti, scientific responsible of the conference, focuses on breastfeeding as a public health priority in emergencies and a recent best practice in the field is presented immediately after, that is what happened when the Morandi bridge collapsed in Genoa last mid-August. The second conference slot is based on the intersectoral approach to address effectively breastfeeding and infant feeding related issues occurring with humanitarian emergencies and natural catastrophes. The Italian Civil Protection Department in the person of Federico Federighi gives a lecture on how the national system for social and health support starts providing help to populations affected by catastrophe.

Alessandro Iellamo from the Infant Feeding in Emergencies Core Group of Save The Children-UK describes the latest operational guidance (2017) on infant and young child feeding in emergencies (a brief technical factsheet in Italian language is supplied by the conference organizers). Finally, the third presentation before the final wrap-up discussion is about protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in emergencies, with a focus on the management of donations, by Elise Chapin-UNICEF Italy.

(*) The conference is in Italian language

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