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The first human milk bank in Vietnam opens, improving access to breast milk for thousands of at-risk infants

  |   SUN Country Network
human milk bank@Ha Vu, Human Milk Bank in Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children

On 17 February 2017, the first breast milk bank opened at the Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children aiming at providing milk for 3,000 – 4,000 at-risks infant each year. Indeed, not all women are able to provide breastmilk; sometimes the mother is too ill or on medication incompatible with breastfeeding. For infants at greatest risk—pre-term, low weight, or orphaned—human milk banks offer the most powerful life-saving nutrition available.

Breastfeeding is vital to ensuring the child’s survival and good health. We hope that the first human milk bank makes it possible for all the babies in Đà Nẵng to have access to lifesaving human milk, regardless of the circumstances in which they are born,”

Nguyễn Đức Vinh, director of the Health Ministry’s Maternal and Child Health Department.

The human milk bank is technically supported by the Maternal and Child Health Department, Ministry of Health; the Da Nang Department of Health; and the international nonprofit organizations PATH and FHI 360 (through the Alive & Thrive initiative); and funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Fund.

The bank will collect, sterilise, test and store safely the milk that has been donated by breastfeeding mothers and provide it to infants in need. The facility will also protect, promote, support breastfeeding by providing lactation support for mothers, and engage local communities with regards to the importance of breastfeeding and milk donation.

It follows PATH’s Mother-Baby Friendly Initiative Plus model (MBFI+), serving as a welcoming hub for all mothers. This includes : (1) mobilizing health care workers and communities to support and encourage breastfeeding; (2) providing safe, pasteurized donated milk from human milk banks when mother’s milk isn’t available; and (3) enabling women and families to practice Kangaroo Mother Care, an effective method for infant survival that involves providing skin-to-skin contact to low-birthweight infants in addition to exclusive breastfeeding.

Despite positive achievements in child health care, the under-five mortality rate in Vietnam is still high, standing at 22 per thousand or 33,000 children per year. Studies have repeatedly shown that of all the known solutions for child mortality, human milk has the greatest impact on child survival. It is the most natural and best-suited option for babies, fostering strength, a healthy metabolism, and a robust immune system.

Compared with formula, donated human milk reduces the risk of sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, diarrhea, and feeding intolerance, as well as the time hospitalized infants remain in care. Recognizing these benefits, the World Health Organization has recommended the scale-up of human milk banks as a proven intervention to improve infant health and survival.



Download the brochure of Vietnam’s human milk bank

Learn more about the Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children

Read the original article and the coverage of the initiative on Alive and Thrive website, and PATH website.

Learn more about human milk banking :

All babies should have access to lifesaving human milk: establishing the first human milk bank in Vietnam

PATH project – Saving infant lives with human milk 

Strengthening Human Milk Banking: A Global Implementation Framework 

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