The newly upgraded milk bank facility at Kimberly Hospital has been launched.
The upgrade was made possible by the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) in partnership with Discovery Health. The existing milk bank had been serving the community for ten years, during which more than 5 000 litres of donated breastmilk was distributed to premature infants but the new upgrades will allow the bank to continue serving thousands of infants and their mothers in the Northern Cape.
“This pioneering milk bank has facilitated more than a half a million feeds over the last ten years. We are extremely proud to be launching this revamped facility, and we are grateful for the generous support of Discovery and the Department of Health,” says Stasha Jordan, breastfeeding activist and executive director of the SABR.
Upgrades to the facility include the installation of an air purification system, new cupboards, fittings, basins, and other necessary equipment to ensure that the milk bank meets with all regulations and requirements for sustainable human milk banking.
“According to the SAPMTCT report, the Northern Cape has the highest rate of exclusive breastfeeding in South Africa,” said Maretha Le Roux, deputy director of nutrition for the NCDOH. “While that’s something to celebrate, we can always improve, and facilities like this one allow us to feed vulnerable infants with human milk, which will give them their best start to life,” she continued.
“We care deeply about the communities we serve, and we’re committed to helping save the lives of premature infants and other babies in need,” said Lisa Temkin-Todes, client relationship manager at Discovery. “The existing milk bank at Kimberley Hospital has done such sterling work over the last ten years. It was our privilege to ensure the future of one of the most prolific and effective breastmilk banking facilities in South Africa,” she continued.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is the best option for all infants, but many premature infants simply cannot breastfeed optimally” said le Roux. “This is why facilities like this milk bank is so critical to these vulnerable babies”.
The existing human milk bank at Kimberley Hospital was originally spearheaded by Dr Josef Petrus Jooste, Dr Aletta Hoffman and dietician Danelle Stubbe. Since 2007 it has fed more than 1,500 infants, and has distributed more than 5m millilitres of breastmilk to premature infants throughout the Northern Cape.
“One incredible thing about breastmilk is that new-born babies only require a tiny amount for each feeding – 10mls or less. For the most severely ‘micro-premature’ infants, 1ml of breastmilk every three hours can make the difference between life and death,” explains Jordan. “This is why we say that every drop counts – that one drop could literally save a baby’s life,” she continues.
“Breastfeeding is a vital part of any infant’s development. Hundreds of scientific studies on the subject are unambiguous: breastfeeding a child for the first 12 months of its life is the best way to ensure it grows up healthy,” said Jordan. “Our newly upgraded facility will ensure that not a single drop of breastmilk need ever be wasted,” she said.