Of all the known approaches to saving infant lives, human milk has the greatest potential impact on child survival. (PATH) When direct breastfeeding or mother’s expressed milk is not available, donor human milk is the next best option.
As such, the 2018 WHO/UNICEF implementation guidance on the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative stated that “Infants who cannot be fed their mother’s own milk, or who need to be supplemented, especially low-birthweight infants, including those with very low birth weight and other vulnerable infants, should be fed donor human milk.” The American Academy of Pediatrics, the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition Committee on Nutrition, and other national and global policy groups also call for use of donor human milk as the feeding of choice, if mother’s own milk is insufficient, unavailable or contraindicated. (WHO)
Now, WHO is in the process of developing guidelines on donor human milk banking.
The ISRHML Trainee Interest Group recently presented A Global View of Human Milk Banking with Kimberly Mansen (PATH), Dr. Victoria Nakibuuka (Nsambya Hospital), Debbie Stone (Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank), and Dr. Maryanne Perrin (The University of North Carolina Greensboro) which brought to light several, wonderful resources and is the inspiration for this week’s post.
Let’s take a look at some human milk banks around the world.
This tableau map depicts publicly known human milk banks. If you know of a milk bank that is not shown on the map, you can fill out this form and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Donor milk banking thrives in countries such as Brazil, where there has been a concerted effort at the Health Ministry level to incorporate milk banks into health policy. (Arnold, 2006)
In commemoration of World Prematurity Day, Uganda introduced its first human milk bank at Nsambya Hospital on the 26th of November 2021 at Pope Square. [More here.]
The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank in Ontario has dispensed over 1 million ounces of human milk. The Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank is a non-profit organization and a joint initiative of Mount Sinai Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. It is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
The first and currently only Ukrainian Human Milk Bank was established in Kiev at the Perinatal Centre where approximately 80 percent of all premature babies in the city are born.
The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) has set up a total of 44 in-hospital human milk banks in public and private hospitals across South Africa.
The first human milk bank in Vietnam was officially opened on February 17, 2017, at the Danang Hospital for Women and Children. This facility is supported by the Vietnam Ministry of Health and the Danang Provincial Department of Health, and is the first human milk bank in Vietnam to be operated within the public health system and to international standards. (PATH)
Take a virtual tour of the bank here.
- Strengthening human milk banking global implementation toolkit
- Global health policies that support the use of banked donor human milk: A human rights issue
- Strengthening Systems to Ensure all Infants Have Access to Human Milk
- Creating religiously compliant milk banks in the Muslim world: a commentary