The chief executive officer and founder of The Milk Booster Breastfeeding Company, Dr. Chinenye Obinwanne-Ezewike has urged mothers of newborns to give babies breast milk in order to make enormous progress in child survival and reduce neonatal mortality rate.
Dr Chinenye Obinwanne-Ezewike revealed this at the launch of the first milk bank in Lagos.
She stated that the decision to influence newborn’s families is based on the decline in survival rate that greater focus on newborns urgently needed.
Obinwanne-Ezewike revealed that it was cheaper to invest in breastfeeding than the ailments that could arise from a lack of it, adding that, yearly, Nigeria loses billions of naira to this.
According to her, breast milk and baby formula are not equivalent in nutritional value, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed donor breast milk as the second best nutrient for a child before baby formula.
She further stated that one of the motivations behind this was mothers within her community constantly seeking breast milk for pre-term babies.
Obinwanne-Ezewike recounted an experience where a mother who had triplets died and the babies needed breast milk but before they could go through the processes to get the milk across, some of the babies died.
She stated that the process involved screening the mother for communicable diseases like HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis and Hman T-lymphotropic Virus (HTLV).
Said the director: “If she is negative on all five tests, then the breast milk is collected, processed and pasteurized. It would equally go through another testing before it would be acceptable for consumption safety and then dispatched to babies.”
She said it would cost over N20,000 to screen a mother, which will be covered by the organization, while also noting that every woman who needs it can get it.
However, she noted it would be dispatched based on priority, starting with sick pre-term babies, healthy pre-term babies and healthy babies that are sick, that is, babies that were born full-term.
Obinwanne-Ezewike explained that the milk bank would run like blood banks, where women could come in to donate milk.
On how to get donors, she said the firm would increase efforts in educating mothers with surplus breast milk on the importance of volunteering to donate their milk.
“We don’t sell breast milk, that’s why every mom is volunteering. We would be paying for the screening and sustainable of the facility. We would be charging a service fee for those that would get the milk. We hope to get more support from partners,” she said.
According to her, based on research, Nigerian mothers are happy and willing to donate than to receive and the mothers in demand are first those with premature babies.
She, therefore, encouraged women to support the cause, stressing the intentions to address cultural shocks that come with accepting another mother’s milk.
The chief executive officer promised that the firm would focus on educating and sensitising women on the importance of babies having human milk than cow milk, and urged government to offer support through funding to help reduce the number of pre-term mortality rate, as Nigeria ranks third in the world.
Meanwhile, Obinwanne-Ezewike said the centre could produce 135 litres of milk weekly, and expressed hope to increase to 200 litres to reach more babies within the next three months.
A lecturer at the department of Nursing, University of Lagos, (UNILAG), Mobolaji Olajide, described a milk bank as an important initiative in Nigeria for mothers who are unable to produce enough breast milk, such as surrogate mothers and others.
Olajide highlighted the need to create more awareness on the benefits for more Nigerians to accept it.