Kerala opens its first human milk bank
Providing the low-birth-weight premature babies with the pasteurized breast milk from the bank will help in reducing the risk of infections and will boost their immunity.
The Health Minister of Kerala, KK Shailaja inaugurated the state’s first Human Milk Bank, a state-of-art facility, at the Ernakulam General Hospital on February 5, 2021.
The Human Milk Bank which has been set up with the support of the Rotary Club of Cochin Global will ensure the breast milk for the newborn babies in the hospital, who are not being breastfed by their own mothers who may be deceased or sick or because of the insufficient production of the breast milk.
Although, approx. 3600 babies are born in the general hospital in a year, around 600 to 1000 babies are admitted into the newborn intensive care unit- NICU. The concept of Human Milk Bank had come to India almost 32 years back, however, Kerala did not have a milk bank till now.
Bringing Human Milk Bank to Kerala:
The Rotary Club of Cochin Global took the responsibility of bringing the project to Kerala with two such breast milk banks- one at Ernakulam and the other at the Jubilee Medical Mission Hospital at Thrissur.
According to Dr. Paul PG of Rotary Cochin Global, providing the low-birth-weight premature babies, whose mothers are not able to provide sufficient milk or the babies who are separated from their mothers because of many reasons, with the pasteurized breast milk from the bank will help in reducing the risk of infections and will boost their immunity.
Human Milk Bank in Kerala: Key Details
• The bank will consist of refrigerators, pasteurization units, RO plants, deep freezers, computers, and sterilizing equipment. It has been set up at the cost of Rs. 35 lakh.
• All the safety protocols, procedures for preserving, collecting, and providing milk to needy children will be ensured as per the guidelines by the government.
• The collected milk for babies can be stored up to 6 months safely in the bank if needed before it is given to an infant.
• The milk, in the beginning, will be provided free of cost to only the babies who are admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital.
• The donors of the milk will be the mothers from the hospital who delivered their babies there. The hospital will also have their health statistics.
• The mothers with the excess milk will be encouraged to participate in the cause to save the lives of other newly born babies.
• The Indian Medical Association- IMA along with the Indian Association of Pediatricians also provided a trained nursing staff for operating the milk bank at the hospital in Kerala.
Project delayed due to COVID-19:
The project of establishing the Human Milk Bank in Kerala also got delayed because of the outbreak of the pandemic. To set up the bank, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Rotary Club of Cochin Global and the State Health Department of Kerala 2020.