A human milk bank was opened on Thursday at a hospital in central Vietnam to provide nutritional support for infants with special needs.
Located at Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children, the bank is expected to store enough breast milk to help feed between 3,000 and 4,000 premature or diseased infants in Vietnam every year.
Its human milk supply is donated by healthy mothers across the country, and is pasteurized and tested for diseases before being kept in cold storage for future use.
The milk bank is funded by Margaret A. Cargill and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, which aim to promote breastfeeding in Vietnam by providing lactation support for Vietnamese mothers.
Technical support for the international-standard milk bank is provided by global health innovation organization PATH and the Alive & Thrive initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of Canada and Ireland.
The bank’s medical staff are professionally trained and equipped with modern tools to guarantee its smooth operation and the safety of its milk supply.
“Breastfeeding is the single most important factor in promoting child survival and good health," Nguyen Duc Vinh from the Ministry of Health was quoted as saying by online newspaper VnExpress at the bank’s opening ceremony. "We hope that this first human milk bank ensures all babies in Da Nang can have access to lifesaving milk, regardless of the circumstances in which they are born."
A government-conducted survey last year showed that just over 19 percent of Vietnamese infants are fully breastfed in the first six months from their birth.
The statistic is remarkably lower than those reported in the country’s neighbors Laos and Cambodia, where 40 percent and 60 percent of newborns respectively are breastfed in the same phase of life.