Breast milk is considered to be the ultimate source of nutrition required for a baby to gain strength and develop fully, especially in the first two years of the infant’s life. In fact, sick babies require breast milk to combat diseases that risk their immunity. But many women are not able to provide breast milk due to many reasons such as sickness, insufficient breast milk production, or in the event of death. That’s why the initiative of Human Milk Bank was introduced, where babies could get access to good-quality breast milk. For the first time in Kerala, a Human Milk Bank (HMB) is all set to open on the 5th of February at the Ernakulam general hospital in association with the Rotary Club of Cochin Global. This facility will provide new-born babies with breast milk.
Dr Paul P G of Rotary Club of Cochin Global, shared, “Providing the low birth-weight premature babies, infants whose mothers are unable to provide sufficient milk and babies separated from mothers due to many reasons with the pasteurized breast milk from the bank will reduce the risk of infections and boost their immunity.”
In 1989, Human Milk Bank was first established in India at Sion Hospital, Mumbai. Close to 3000-5000 babies have benefited from the bank every year since it opened shop. Kerala can now take pride in saying that it has its very own HMB. The Rotary has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state health department to open an HMB at the Jubilee Medical Mission Hospital at Thrissur too. It is under works. The Indian Medical Association(IMA) and Indian Association of Pediatricians (IAP) have trained nurses to be a part of the unit.
Where will the breast milk come from?
Mothers who lactate more will be encouraged to donate their milk after assessing their health at the hospital. The HMB unit will follow all the protocols, guidelines, testing, pasteurization, and processing necessary for the safe transfer and storage of the breast milk.
The milk can be stored up to 6 months safely in the bank. According to the Mint, “The human milk bank, which consists of a pasteurization unit, refrigerators, deep freezers, RO plant, sterilizing equipment and computers, was set up at a cost of ₹35 lakh.”