Kerala’s first Human Milk Bank (HMB), a state-of-art facility will be opened at the Ernakulam general hospital here on Friday by Health Minister KK Shailaja. Set up with the support of the Rotary Club of Cochin Global, the milk bank is to ensure breast milk for newborn babies, who are not being breastfed by their own mothers who may be sick, deceased, or due to insufficient production of breast milk, in the hospital.
Although approximately 3600 babies are born in the general hospital a year, 600 to 1,000 sick babies are admitted into the NICU. “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,” said Dr Paul P G of Rotary Cochin Global. Though the concept had come to India 32 years back, Kerala did not have a milk bank till now. All safety protocols and procedures for collecting, preserving and providing it to needy children will be ensured as per government guidelines. The collected milk can be stored up to 6 months safely in the bank if needed before it is given to an infant.
In the beginning, the milk will be provided free of cost to only the babies admitted in the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital. Later on, a network of hospitals for multiple collections and safe distribution points will be planned. The donors will be the mothers from the hospital who have delivered babies there and will have all their health statistics available at the hospital.