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Limpopo gets first breast milk bank

Limpopo mothers have welcomed the opening of the first breast milk bank in the province, believing it will help to save babies.

“Even though this (new breast milk bank) was not launched at my nearest hospital, which is Tshilidzini Hospital, I believe that it will help to save a lot of babies, especially those whose mothers are not healthy enough to breastfeed them,” said Faith Nemakhavhani, a mother of two girls.

She said she hoped this new development was just a start, and that the Limpopo Health Department would establish more breast milk banks at other hospitals soon.

 I believe that it will help to save a lot of babies, especially those whose mothers are not healthy enough to breastfeed them

The first breast milk bank in Limpopo was launched at Mankweng Hospital by the provincial Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba. She used the occasion to encourage  healthy mothers to donate their excess breast milk to support mothers who are not able to breastfeed their babies.

Donated breast milk

The bank will help to save the infants whose mothers are infected with chronic illnesses, orphans and babies with weak immune systems that could be saved by breast milk donated by healthy mothers.

The donated milk is expected to help reduce mortality rates of infants and children under the age of five. The milk will be kept at a room temperature in a sterilised environment.

“It is preferable for babies to be fed with breast milk in the early weeks after birth. Research has proven that breast milk is good for a baby’s health and growth and there are many other benefits,” said Dr Ramathuba. “Breastfeeding your baby reduces the risk of the child developing chronic conditions, such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and other chronic conditions.”

Limpopo health spokesperson Thabiso Teffo said the department will be launching similar initiatives at other hospitals in the province to make sure breast milk is available for needy babies at other hospitals.

“This is only the beginning, more is still to come. Similar breast milk banks will also be launched in our other hospitals in the province,” said Teffo.

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