The first breast milk bank in the south of Vietnam became operational at the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on April 10.
Donated milk is pasteurized and stored in germ-free conditions before it is provided for newborns in need
This bank was formed with the support from the non-profit organisation FHI 360 – Alive & Thrive.
The donated milk is chosen from nursing mothers who have to pass strict checks to ensure that they do not have any diseases or behaviours that may affect milk quality. After that, the milk is pasteurized and stored in germ-free conditions. It will be provided for newborns who lack access to their own mothers’ milk or suffer from serious diseases.
Director of the Tu Du Hospital Le Quang Thanh said each year, his hospital records about 6,000 – 7,000 premature babies with diseases who need breast milk to support their treatment and recovery.
However, most of them still have to use formula milk due to various reasons. Therefore, the establishment of the breast milk bank will help address this urgent need.
In the short term, milk from the bank will be supplied to newborns at the Tu Du Hospital. When the donation source becomes more abundant, it will be provided to other obstetric and pediatric hospitals in HCM City like the Hung Vuong Hospital and the Children’s Hospital No. 1 and 2, Thanh noted.
At the opening ceremony, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said the breast milk bank will support newborns without access to their own mothers’ milk, especially premature babies and those with serious diseases. It will also help improve public awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
He noted aside from milk donated by mothers in hospitals, the bank will also expand milk collection to families and businesses where millions of nursing mothers are ready to share their milk. In the long term, the Ministry of Health plans to set up not only one or two breast milk banks but multiply this model at all obstetric and pediatric hospitals nationwide to ensure that all newborns can access breast milk.-VNA