A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Afribaby Initiative, said it plans to establish breast milk banks in Nigeria to enable proper breastfeeding of babies including the motherless.
The founder of the organisation, Oscar Odiboh, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Wednesday that the banks would collect, screen, preserve and distribute human milk to babies.
Mr. Odiboh said that the banks would be non-profit making and committed to ensuring effective and consistent breastfeeding of babies, including the motherless and those of women with lactation problems. He solicited the collaboration of governments and private organisations in the implementation of the project.
The founder said that his organisation would not be able to fund the project alone and needed the support of governments and well meaning individuals and groups. He said that the breast milk banks would address infant mortality by helping babies to develop properly and increase chances of survival.
“We need storage tanks to support up to 1000 babies with breast milk at the same time everyday for six months, and this requires a lot of capital.
“We are really concerned about the plights of babies. We want all babies, irrespective of their situations, to be able to have breast milk and have it exclusively.
“Breast milk is a milk of human kindness; the babies that will benefit from the banks will be healthy like any other,” he said.
He said that the NGO was already discussing with some hospitals on the possibility of establishing the banks in the hospitals, temporarily with a long term plan to site the banks outside hospitals.
Mr. Odiboh said that the banks would be established as soon as funds were available.
He explained that breast milk built babies’ immunities against diseases and reduced the rate of their death before age five. He also said that breast milk was the most complete form of nutrition for infants, adding that it could not be replaced by any other food, including infant formulae.
He noted that breast milk contained lactalbumin which, he said, helped in the prevention of cancer.
Mr. Odiboh urged education of lactating mothers in Nigeria on the need to donate breast milk, as obtainable in developed countries. He dismissed the myth that breastfeeding another person’s child had negative health implications.