Việt Nam’s first human milk bank opened today at the Đà Nẵng Hospital for Women and Children in central Đà Nẵng City. — Photo vov.vn
ĐÀ NẴNG — Việt Nam’s first human milk bank opened today at the Đà Nẵng Hospital for Women and Children in central Đà Nẵng City.
Supported by the health ministry’s Maternal and Child Health Department, the Đà Nẵng Department of Health, PATH and FHI 360 (through the Alive & Thrive initiative), the bank will be able to provide lifesaving donor milk to 3,000 to 4,000 at-risk infants each year.
“Breastfeeding is vital to ensuring the child’s survival and good health. We hope that the first human milk bank makes it possible for all the babies in Đà Nẵng to have access to lifesaving human milk, regardless of the circumstances in which they are born,” said Nguyễn Đức Vinh, director of the health ministry’s Maternal and Child Health Department.
"This pilot human milk bank will also provide the Ministry of Health with evidence of the need to replicate human milk banks in other health facilities across the country,” added Vinh.
“We know human milk works best for infants, and it is readily available. We just need to manage its availability, so that every baby gets it,” said Ramona Byrkit, PATH’s Mekong regional director.
The human milk bank in Đà Nẵng will collect, pasteurise, test, and store safely the milk that has been donated by breastfeeding mothers and provide it to infants in need. The facility will also protect, promote, and support breastfeeding by providing lactation support for mothers.
With funding from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH and Alive & Thrive provided the technical support to the Đà Nẵng Hospital for Women and Children to establish the country’s first human milk bank in line with the international standards.
The two organisations also trained staff, sourced high quality equipment, communicated about the human milk bank to potential donor mothers and the public, and developed operational guidelines and standard operating procedures to ensure efficiency and safety in the facility.
Despite gains in child health in Việt Nam, the mortality rate for children under five years of age is still 22 deaths per 1,000 live births (Statistical Yearbook of Việt Nam 2015). This means that every year over 33,000 children in Việt Nam die before their fifth birthday (Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2015 Report).
Studies have repeatedly shown that of all the known solutions for child mortality, human milk has the greatest impact on child survival. It is the most natural and best-suited option for babies, fostering strength, a healthy metabolism, and a robust immune system. — VNS