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Looking for IYCF Interventions for refugees in high-income(!) settings for master thesis

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 5 replies.

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MPH candidate and MD

Normal user

3 Jan 2019, 16:00

My name is Isabel Auer and I have been working as a pediatric doctor in several refugee camps in Hamburg/Germany for the past three years while completing a Master in Prevention and Health Promotion (MPH). From my experience, one of the big challenges in refugee care lies within the field of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF). Breastfeeding rates ( especially exclusive breastfeeding for 4-6 months) are way lower than in the countries of origin. Support systems are not comprehensively implemented (if there are any at all...). Also knowledge about complimentary feeding and how to implement it under the special conditions of living in a camp is very limited.

This is why I chose to write my master thesis about IYCF interventions addressing refugees in high income settings. By now I haven’t come across many useful studies/projects/programs, especially none that follow a culture-sensitive approach.

Has anyone been involved in any projects/programs/interventions focussing on IYCF for refugees in high-income countries? If so, could you provide some information about it? Also, if you know about any links to studies or projects that deal with this issue (carried out in high income settings) or other people who work within this field, I would really appreciate to hear about that.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my message and I appreciate your help!

Best regards

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

3 Jan 2019, 17:48

Hello Isabel. I'm no expert or academic, just a breastfeeding counsellor, doula, writer and volunteer. I visited the Dunkirk camp twice before it was burned down. I and a colleague blogged about our experiences here:

You may find the long comment conversation under my article about the GSF midwives interesting as it exemplifies your point about the complete lack of knowledge of proper IYCF in emergencies best practice.

Good luck with your work. It's great to see a doctor interested in this!

Maddie x

Michelle Pensa Branco

SafelyFed Canada, Co-Founder/Clinical Lead

Normal user

5 Jan 2019, 18:24

Hi Isabel,

SafelyFed Canada did some work with arriving asylum-seekers in Montreal Canada, though that project is now wound up. This article profiles a couple of the projects that we have been involved in (along with the local folks who do the real heavy lifting!):

As part of my own MPH, my team worked on a scan of the IYCF response in Ontario, which I would be pleased to share with you. There are some findings from the public health interviews that might be interesting to you. I also worked with Nurture Project International in Greece and would be pleased to connect you with someone there.

In general, I have observed that there is very limited programming offered in the area of IYCF in Canadian re-settlement activities - I think your observation that infant feeding practices deteriorate upon arrival is accurate. Please feel free to email me at and I will be happy to send you what I can.


Normal user

7 Jan 2019, 05:27

Dear Isabel,
This is indeed a field where there is a lack of data, experience sharing etc. I myself work for a government organization in Belgium that visits all families with newborns (regardless of background), in that function I also visit a small center for refugees of the Red Cross on both a monthly and an as needed frequency as well as refugees settling in the community. As a lactation consultant (and an ex-IYCFE actor in the field) IYCF support is high on my agenda. However I have only experiences, not data or research. A student did some focus group discussions on the topic in a different center, but her report is in Dutch. Still, you're free to contact me if I can contribute to anything.

Alessandro Iellamo

Save the Children UK

Normal user

7 Jan 2019, 07:15

Hi Isabel


thanks a lot for your question. In Save we have been working, in trying to raise the profile of IYCF-E also in High income countries...with direct experiences in the field as well as other efforts, policies, plans etc. At the same time, I have compiled some interesting peer reviewed article on the subject matter, focusing on Japan, US, Canada, Italy, Malaysia. etc....

As we are working on this issue, I would really appreciate if we could have a call and maybe see how we could help you in your research...


MPH candidate and MD

Normal user

15 Jan 2019, 15:58

Thank you everyone for your kind answers. As I somehow don't mange to answer you directly, please get in touch with me via email
Thank you very much!

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