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Haiti’s earthquake has taken a great toll on the nation’s youngest children. Thousands of babies were orphaned during the earthquake and its chaotic aftermath. Many new mothers were injured or are ill, leaving them unable to feed and care for their newborns. Months after the disaster, thousands of children who survived the earthquake are at risk of severe malnutrition, dehydration and disease.
Babies in earthquake-affected areas were recently in imminent crisis due to a shortage of infant formula. A large shipment of humanitarian aid was on the way, it would not arrive in time and a shortage loomed that would have left 1,000 infants at risk of life-threatening malnutrition.
To help prevent a crisis, AmeriCares trucked in nearly 200,000 bottles of safely prepared liquid infant formula from neighboring Dominican Republic to help at-risk babies in earthquake-affected areas. AmeriCares worked in cooperation with the U.N. Nutrition Cluster and Haiti’s Ministry of Health.
“Without adequate nutrition, fragile infants can die quickly or, at the very least, suffer serious health problems within a matter of days,” said AmeriCares medical director Dr. Frank Bia. “While nursing with the mother is best and has many health benefits for infants, it is sadly not an option for the children receiving the formula.”
Children made homeless by the disaster risk serious illness and life-threatening dehydration due to a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation. To help provide care for vulnerable children, AmeriCares delivered pediatric antibiotics, baby food and other critical supplies. AmeriCares also made deliveries of oral rehydration salts and electrolyte solutions critical to saving the lives of children suffering from diarrhea-induced dehydration.
AmeriCares is also committed to addressing other essential health needs of children in earthquake-affected Haiti. Among the recipients of AmeriCares aid is one of Haiti’s leading pediatric hospitals – Hopital Espoir. AmeriCares Haiti programs include deliveries of medical supplies and humanitarian aid to orphanages and support for emergency housing for children who have been discharged from hospitals but are not healthy enough to survive in squalid tent cities.