Name of the activity: Neonatal Health: Formula versus Breast Milk

Country/NMO: Pakistan (IFMSA-Pakistan)

Program: Children Health & Rights

 

Type of the activity: Education

 

General description:

The activity aimed to highlight the significance and advantages of Breast Milk over the Infant Formula Milk. Both the mother and the child are subject to multifarious health issues if the child is deprived of breast milk. The goal of the activity was to address the future mothers of the society and elaborate on the consequences of using formulated mil products for their children, which is synonymous to depriving the child of the basic nutrients and immunity. This also has a major impact on mother’s health, as shown by the increasing rates of breast cancer. After an extensive research and working with the officials of Punjab Food Authority, the female students in their late teens, that is, the future mothers of the society were targeted as the audience. Brochures were distributed and response forms were given, which would help in the further evaluation.

Focus area:

Children & healthy habits (physical activity, healthy eating, hygiene, etc)

Problem statement:

With the advances made in Medical Science and Biotechnology, there has been a rampant rise in commercial preparations of synthetic derivatives of natural products, a classic example of which is the Infant Formula Milk. In developing countries such as Pakistan, a lack of acumen causes the masses to accept these infant formulas and prefer them over the breast milk without any strong indication of their use. The pharmaceutical companies sway the consensus in favor of these products, whereas in reality they are not beneficial or may even be harmful.

Target groups and beneficiaries:

The project was designed so as to enlighten the future mothers of the society with the prevailing risks of using any formulated milk products for their children. Consequently, we targeted females, who were in their late teens and receiving their education in the governmental institute of Degree College, Marghzar, Lahore. The seminar was attended by 420 to 450 students and was held within the college premises.

Objectives and indicators of success:

“The primary objectives of this were:

• To elaborate on the hazards of Infant Formula Milk, the various short and long term health issues. The audience clearly understood it and the success was indicated by the fact that they asked questions to the presenters and even answered if they were asked something. Thus, the session was made interactive.
• To make the audience aware of the contents of Infant Formula Milk, and compare them with those naturally found in the breast milk.
• To explain the multifarious health issues which the mother is more susceptible to if she does not breast feed her child, including the increasing percentage of breast cancer. One of the students, who was herself a mother, decided to terminate giving formula milk to her child. Furthermore, the response forms filled by the students were a display of the immense knowledge which the students had gained.

Methodology:

It was an event which had to be carefully planned and a lot of research and hard work went into it. Several meetings were conducted with the officials of Punjab Food Authority in this regard, dating back to May 2017, with at least one meeting every month. In order for us to carry out an extensive research before the event, we accompanied the officials from Punjab Food Authority in their trips to the various factories producing and manufacturing infant formula milk. After seeing and understanding in detail the mechanism with which the Infant Formula Milk was prepared, and properly surveying the district so as to find out the percentage of people preferring these formulations over breast milk, we prepared our presentations. Banners and posters were made. The audience was carefully selected, considering that the females, in their late teens, are the future mothers of the society.

Plans for evaluation:

In order to assess the final results and impact which the event has had on the targeted audience, we devoted three days after the seminar to evaluating and compiling the results which we had collected. In order for the easy comprehension of the seminar, the presenters used words which were easily understood and any medical terminologies used in the speech were simultaneously explained. At the end of the seminar, response forms were distributed among the audience and they were asked to fill in those with the knowledge which they had gained from the preceding presentation. The data from the response forms was plotted in the form of graphs and the percentage of people having knowledge about the Infant Formula Milk, its hazards both on the mother and the child, were compared before and after giving the seminar. The statistics were handed over to the Punjab Food Authority.