Donate Breast Milk to Save a Life
Breast milk offers premature babies the best possible nutrition and protection essential for their survival.
The Western Cape Government Health and the City of Cape Town will celebrate this year’s Human Milk Banking week from 1-7 March 2017 with a Breast Express event at the Belhar Indoor Centre. The event is a drive to create awareness of the importance and need of donating human milk to aid children who are in need of breast milk. This milk is given to premature babies (most under 1,5 kg) who are in neonatal intensive care units both in the state and private hospitals.
Only 38% of babies are exclusively breastfed across the world. According to the Millenium Development Goals, exclusive breastfeeding practices could prevent between 11-13 % of all the deaths in children under 5 years of age. These goals were geared towards reducing child mortality under 5 years of age by two thirds between 1990-2015. Currently South Africa’s Exclusive Breastfeeding rate is at 8% (SADHS), below the world’s average.
‘Breast milk acts as a natural vaccine that protects babies from infections, allergies and diarrhoea amongst other things. The City of Cape Town has been working hard on its breastfeeding restoration plan over the past few years. The plan is designed to ensure that all City policies and guidelines are in line with the strategy to promote, protect and support breastfeeding; training health workers to properly implement best practice and addressing perceptions about breastfeeding in public,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.
The breast express event targets mothers with infants of 6 months and younger. Awareness will be created on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of babies’ life. These women will hand express breastmilk in order to highlight the need for breast milk donations and maternity protection (rights of mothers to continue to exclusively breastfeed their babies when returning back to work). Human Milk Banking event is in line with the provincial government’s first 1000 Days of a baby which is the window of opportunity to improve the child’s physical and brain development. Breastfeeding assist in providing healthy foods for the child and that is one of the pillars of the 1000 days in baby’s life.
“This project is a great opportunity for us as the Western Cape Government: Health to express our commitment to illustrate why breast feeding is so important. The best thing women can do is to offer their newborn babies the number one nutritional supplement.” Said Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Health Minister
Breast milk offers different benefits to a child for example, improve growth and nutrition status, increase bonding between mother and child, child is less likely to die of malnutrition, less diarrhoea and respiratory infections, lower risk of chronic diseases and other benefits. The mother also benefit from breastfeeding on the basis that she is less likely to fall pregnant again, lower risk of maternal cancers, weight loss and depression.
The Breast express event will be the second event planned in the Metro following the first successful event held in Goodhope Centre in 8 August 2012. The Goodhope event saw a record of 1549 mothers who came together and breastfed their young on the day.
All the mothers participating in the event will be bussed from various institutions and points around the Metropole. These are institutions like, Bishop Lavis Maternity Obstetric Unit (MOU), Elsies River MOU, Hanover Park MOU, Gugulethu MOU, Delft MOU, Elsies River MOU, Mitchell’s Plain MOU, Site B MOU, Michael Mapongwane MOU, Macassar, Retreat and Vanguard MOU.
Who donates milk?
A healthy, lactating mother with surplus milk to donate.
All donors are screened first and their donated milk is screened and pasteurised to ensure the donor milk is safe for the recipient babies.
“The event is testimony to showcase the good relations between the WCGH and the City of Cape Town to improve Better Health of its clients Together,” says Ms Juanita Arendse, Director of Northern Tygerberg Substructure.