Breastmilk Banks

Visitors to our website will have seen that BTMAT’s most intensive involvement is for the care of children with cancer in Cameroon. The majority of our funds from our supporters in the UK and beyond, is for this.

Our Governing Document with the UK Charity Commission – a summary of which can be seen on this website – says that BTMAT is also concerned with the care of the newborn. A major and continuing aspect of this work is the support of the three Breastmilk Banks we have established in our hospitals – one in each of them. In addition we established one in the Government hospital in Bamenda. All were founded between 2000 and 2005.

Breastmilk Banks? The concept is simple and accepted globally. Donated breastmilk is received freely from lactating mothers, who invariably have enough and to spare.

This milk is screened in our laboratories and pasteurised, and then stored and used for the benefit of fragile newborn babies whose mothers – for whatever reason – are unable at least temporarily, to breast feed their own infants. The mother may be sick: febrile, malnourished, severely anaemic, exhausted, recovering from anaesthetic. She may have delayed onset of lactation, or she may abscond – leaving the baby in the hospital – or she may die as a result of serious birth or post-delivery conditions.

WHO and UNICEF both state that every newborn baby should receive breast milk within half an hour of birth. This includes those babies who are born to HIV positive mothers. Sadly there are many such in sub-Saharan Africa.

We achieve pasteurisation of all donated breast milk using a simple inexpensive kit purchased from a company in Andover, UK. We have provided small fridge-freezers for all our hospitals, in which pasteurised donated milk is stored in small glass re-usable jars. We have trained Maternity Unit staff in the screening of potential donors, the precise scheme for expressing donor milk and the precise protocol for its pasteurisation.

We know that almost 10% of all babies in our Maternity Units require donated milk from our banks  This is about 500 babies per year.We know that we are giving these tiny, fragile, vulnerable babies the best start in life.

Breastmilk banks exist only in three sites in Africa; Kwazulu Natal, Cape Verde Islands, and Cameroon.

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