Singapore has launched its first donor human milk bank programme, which is targeted at helping mothers who cannot produce sufficient breast milk for their sick or premature infants.
A collaborative effort between the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and Temasek Foundation Cares, the three-year pilot project aims to benefit 900 babies by recruiting around 375 mothers who are willing to donate their excess supply of breast milk.
The programme was launched on Thursday (17 August) by former Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, said the organisations in a joint media release.
Managed by KKH, the milk bank will collect, screen, process and store breast milk received from donors while following strict international guidelines throughout the process – from screening donors up to storing the pasteurised milk.
Singapore’s public hospitals provide neonatal intensive care for an average of about 350 very low birth weight infants each year, the release said. At KKH, up to 80 per cent of the sick infants in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and special care nursery have to receive formula milk – either exclusively or partially – during their stay, due to a shortage of breast milk from their own mothers.
“Providing safe, pasteurised breast milk from donors to these vulnerable babies allows them to benefit from this ideal source of nutrition while also significantly improving their chances of development and recovery,” said Dr Chua Mei Chien, director of the Temasek Foundation Cares Donor Human Milk Bank Programme.
In support of the programme, Temasek Foundation Cares will provide it with a total of $1.37 million in funding over a three-year period.
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