• Aug 23, 2022
  • Post By Beyond the Limits Treks and Expedition

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Nepal's first-ever Human Milk Bank 'Amrit Kosh' was inaugurated by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari at the Paropakar Maternity and Women's Hospital in Kathmandu yesterday.The milk bank is expected to ensure baby-friendly health systems and provide premature, low birthweight and other at-risk infants access to the vast benefits of breast milk when they need it the most. 'Amrit Kosh,' the human milk bank at the hospital, has the facilities to collect, pasteurise, test and store safe donor human milk from lactating mothers and then provide it to infants in need. A centre has been established in partnership with the Government of Nepal, the European Union and UNICEF.

It is estimated that above 81,000 babies are born preterm in Nepal. Children face the maximum risk of dying in their first month of life. Preterm and low birthweight babies are at even higher risk. According to the Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2019, the neonatal mortality rate (number of deaths per 1,000 live births during the first 28 days of life) in Nepal is 16. Similarly, the infant mortality rate (number of deaths per 1,000 live births below 1 year of age) is 25 and the under-five mortality rate is 28 per 1,000 live births. "Human breast milk contains the best source of nutrition and ensures the survival and healthy growth of babies. It bolsters brain development and has lifelong benefits for the baby and the mother," said Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at the Family Welfare Division, during the inauguration ceremony.

Human breast milk contains antibodies which cannot be found in any other source. The early initiation of breastfeeding (in the first hour of birth), exclusive breastfeeding from birth to 6 months of age and continued breastfeeding up to 2 years and beyond associated with complementary feeding offers a powerful line of defence against infection and malnutrition and helps in the prevention of deaths of infants and young children.

Exclusive breastfeeding has the potential of preventing 13 per cent of under-five deaths globally each year.

"Premature, low birthweight and small for gestational age babies are vulnerable in terms of survival and cognitive development and usually have feeding problems due to their medical conditions. Quite often, direct breastfeeding is not possible for these babies.

The next best alternative is expressed breast milk, preferably from their biological mother," said Prof Dr Amir Babu Shrestha, Director at maternity hospital.

Source:- A version of this article appears in the print on August 21, 2022 of The Himalayan Times.