Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. In 2009, World Breastfeeding Week aims to draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide, as well as to stress the need for active protection and support of breastfeeding before and during emergencies.

World Breastfeeding Week--celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August in more than 120 countries--encourages breastfeeding as one of the ways to improve the health of babies around the world. "Breastfeeding - a vital emergency response. Are you ready?" is this year's theme. Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies, when child mortality can be from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhoea, respiratory illness and malnutrition.

One of the objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2009 is to inform mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, health professionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency. During emergencies, mothers need active support to continue or re-establish breastfeeding, and supporting breastfeeding in non-emergency settings is a way to ensure that mothers will be better equiped to cope in an emergency.

Emergency preparedness is vital. Hospitals and other health care services must train health workers to help mothers establish breastfeeding and/or overcome difficulties.

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