A national human milk bank was inaugurated at Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) here today to provide breast milk to newborns who cannot be nursed by their own mothers. The human milk bank and lactation counselling centre, ‘Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh’, will collect, pasteurise, test and store milk donated by lactating mothers and make it available for infants in need. Union Health Secretary C K Mishra, who inaugurated the facility, said the bank would provide life-saving human milk to all newborns in and around Delhi. He said despite everybody knowing the importance of mother’s milk for a child, breastfeeding is not widespread in India. “We launched mothers absolute affection (MAA) programme to create awareness about breastfeeding, which is the most cost-effective way of enhancing a child’s immunity,” Mishra said. He said that the decline in rate of maternal and child mortality rates is much faster than the global target and thanked the frontline workers for this. “We are poised to enhance universal health coverage in the country and are conscious of quality issues. Several efforts are underway through National Health Mission to improve affordability, quality and access to healthcare services,” Mishra said.
The ‘Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh’ has been set up in collaboration with the Norwegian government, Oslo University and Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI). It will also act as a dedicated centre to support and promote breastfeeding to improve survival of infants, besides acting as the teaching, training and demonstration site for other milk banks to be established under the ambit of the health ministry.