Nigeria’s first breast milk bank has established several initiatives to tackle the country’s alarmingly high neonatal mortality rates.
The bank, established in August 2022 by Dr. Chinny Obinwanne, a dedicated medical doctor and lactation consultant, is on a mission to provide vulnerable newborns with the life-saving nourishment they need.
With Nigeria’s current neonatal mortality rate at 35 per 1,000 live births, the urgency for innovative solutions to address this crisis cannot be overstated.
Medical experts say preterm births, a significant contributor to these mortality rates, are particularly prevalent, accounting for nearly half of all neonatal deaths.
To combat this, the breast milk bank has become a crucial resource for infants in dire need.
The idea for the bank was conceived after Dr Obinwanne witnessed the tragic consequences of insufficient breast milk supply for premature babies, some of whom tragically lost their lives due to a lack of nourishment.
This heartbreaking reality spurred her into action, leading her to establish the bank.
Since its launch during World Breastfeeding Week in August 2022, the bank has aimed to bridge the gap in neonatal care and offer these fragile infants a fighting chance.
The bank’s operations are centred around voluntary breast milk donations from mothers who have surplus milk and are willing to help infants without access to their mother’s milk.
The donated milk undergoes a stringent screening process for infectious diseases, ensuring it is safe for consumption.
After this, the milk is pasteurized through a heating process that eradicates harmful bacteria and viruses, rendering it safe for preterm babies.
The initiative has already achieved notable success by providing breast milk for two babies free of charge, a testament to its potential impact.
As the bank’s pioneering efforts gain momentum, it stands as a symbol of hope, resilience, and innovation in the face of a critical healthcare challenge.
By addressing the root causes of neonatal mortality and offering a lifeline to preterm infants, Nigeria’s first breast milk bank is saving lives and charting a new course for neonatal care in the country.