Medical Doctor and lactation consultant, Chinny Obinwanne-Ezewike, has said it is cheaper to invest in breastfeeding, which helps especially pre term, low birth weight, and vulnerable babies adding that yearly, Nigeria looses billions of naira to illnesses that arise.
She said this at the launch of MilkBank Nigeria, the first in the country.
Obinwanne-Ezewike who is the founder of Milk Booster and Milk Bank Nigeria said that breast milk and baby formula are not equivalent in nutrition value. She noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed donor breast milk as the second best nutrient for a child before baby formula.
She said one of the motivation behind this is having received requests from mother’s within her community constantly seeking breast milk for premature babies.
She recounted an experience where a mum who had triplets died and the babies needed breast milk but before they could go through processes and get the milk across, the babies died too.
According to her, before we can accept milk from donors, the mother must be screened of communicable diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis and HTLV . If she is negative on all five tests, then the breast milk is collected, processed and pasteurised. It goes through another testing for consumption safety before it can be dispatched to babies.
“It will cost over N20,000 to screen one mum and this costs will be covered by us,” she added.
On women qualified to receive the milk, Obinwanne-Ezewike, said every woman in need of it can get, she however said it would be dispatched based on priority, starting with sick pre-term babies, healthy pre-term babies and full term babies who are sick.
She explained that the milk bank would run like blood banks where women can come in to donate milk.
On getting donors, she said the firm would increase its efforts in educating mothers with surplus breast milk on the importance of volunteering to donate their milk.
“We don’t sell breast milk that’s why every mum is volunteering. We would be paying for the screening and sustainable of the facility. We would be charging a service fee for those that would get the milk. We hope to get more support from partners,” she said.
She stated that the facility can produce 135 litres of milk on a weekly basis. She expressed hope to increase to 200 litres to reach more babies within the next three months.
She however urged the government to offer support through funding to help reduce the number of premature mortality rate as Nigeria ranks third is the world. “We want the government to also support this initiative by providing funds to help those with low income and in rural areas.