The act of donating breastmilk can save a baby’s life. South Africa has close to 30 human milk banks mostly in public health facilities.
According to the executive director of South African Breastmilk Reserve, Stasha Jordan, breastmilk is the safest optimal food for the premature and full-term infant population. The human milk bank says milk donation levels in South Africa fluctuate.
“I can assure you that we fiuctuate on a weekly and daily basis. We are a smaller breastmilk bank. We have a half a month or a months supply of breastmilk in the reserve in the quantity we put out. We had a shortage last week and obviously these shortages correct themselves. We do a lot of social media marketing of our activities and we try to engage new mothers”
One of the challenges in running a tissue bank like this one is funding. The South African Breastmlk Reserve says they need one hundred and fifty US dollars to run the facility comfortably.
“What we really need is probably one hundred and fifty thousand US dollars to be able to contain the operations of the organization and to continue growing. We do see some remittance issues with our state accounts which are arising from current budget constraints.”
The South African Breastmilk Reserve say they feed six thousand babies annually.
“We were able to reach six thousand banks compared to the previous year which was three thousand two hundred babies. This made a great impact on the health system at large as it allowed public facilities especially because it was targeting hospitals which are not on service level agreement with us.”
In South Africa, a donor mom can give up to four litres of breastmilk. The bank says cost of screening a breastmilk donor averages around 15 US dollars.