Gov’t run hospital puts up breast milk bank to help poor and working lactating mothers

Many lactating mothers may not be aware of this: there is a government hospital in Manila that has put up a breast milk bank which can be used to feed babies whose mothers have problems in lactation.

The Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, the busiest maternity institution in Manila which is  run by the government, has been intensifying its collection  efforts to boost breastfeeding among poor mothers as well as working women who must have to return to work immediately after giving birth..

Esmeraldo Ilem, head of the hospital’s family planning unit, said the hospital started its bank in 2007, but since then at least two other facilities in the capital have opened milk banks.

Here in the hospital, breast milk is pasteurised and refrigerated and sold at up to $10 (more or less P420.00) for 4 liters to other hospitals and individuals with mothers as first priority.

The official said that even hospitals in far-flung areas or provinces come to the hospital to buy milk.

Results of a study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) showed that exclusive breastfeeding – giving babies only breast milk in the first six months after their birth, which boosts their immunity to childhood diseases – has risen from 36% in 2008 to 47% in 2011 in the Philippines. Breastfeeding a baby within one hour after birth, also increased from 32% in 2008 to 52% in 2011.

Ilem said breast milk is the best way to make babies healthy in the early stages of life but there are many mothers who need to go back to work or do not lactate very well, so this is where milk from the hospital comes in.

In a move to promote breastfeeding, a law was passed in 2009 that  protects a woman’s right to breastfeed publicly, and requires private as well as public companies to allot time for breastfeeding.

The law also mandates that all public institutions have to provide lactation stations separate from bathrooms.

Since 1986, Executive Order 51, known as the Milk Code, has prohibited advertising infant formula for infants under two years old.#