Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari opened the Himalayan nation’s first-ever human milk bank on Friday at a maternity and women’s hospital in Kathmandu to provide preterm and other at-risk newborns with the immense advantages of breast milk when they need it the most.
According to authorities, ‘Amrit Kosh,’ the human milk bank at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, has the capacity to collect, pasteurize, test, and store safe donor human milk from breastfeeding moms and then deliver it to newborns in need.
The center was built in collaboration with the Nepalese government, the European Union, and . “Premature, low birth weight and tiny for gestational age newborns are susceptible in terms of survival and cognitive development, and they typically have feeding challenges as a result of their medical conditions,” stated Prof. Dr. Amir Babu Shrestha, Director of Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital.
According to a news release published by UNICEF Nepal, the milk bank is a significant step in ensuring baby-friendly health systems and provides preterm, low birth weight, and other at-risk newborns with access to the immense advantages of breast milk when they need it the most. Every year, around 15 million preterm infants are born worldwide. An estimated 81,000 preterm infants are born in lower-middle-income nations like Nepal.
Infants are most likely to die in their first month of life, while preterm and low birth weight newborns are even more likely. The neonatal mortality rate (number of deaths per 1,000 live births during the first 28 days of life) in Nepal is 16, according to the Nepal Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (NMICS) 2019.
Similarly, the infant mortality rate (the number of deaths per 1000 live births for children under one-year-old) is 25 per 1,000 live births, and the under-five mortality rate is 28 per 1,000 live births.
“Human breast milk is the finest source of nutrients for newborns, ensuring their survival and good growth.” It promotes brain development and has long-term advantages for both the infant and the mother,” said Dr. Bibek Kumar Lal, Director of the Ministry of Health and Population’s Family Welfare Division.
Human breast milk includes antibodies that cannot be obtained elsewhere. According to experts, exclusive breastfeeding has the potential to prevent 13% of the deaths of children under the age of five worldwide each year.
Breastfeeding should begin within the first hour after delivery, and exclusive breastfeeding can save 22% of all infant deaths globally. According to NMICS 2019, just 42% of infants under the age of two are breastfed within one hour of delivery in Nepal, while 62% of children under the age of six months are exclusively breastfed.
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