South African Breastmilk Reserve: Netcare and the SABR Feed for Life Initiative Partners with Groote Schuur Hospital

With the auspices of our largest partner, Netcare, and under the Feed for Life Initiative, SABR human milk banks collect donated breast milk in Netcare Hospitals and donate it at no cost, to infants in the care of Public Hospital facilities. On 3rd December 2010 at 10.30 am, at the Blaauwberg Netcare Hospital, Blaauwberg Netcare and SABR will be handing over 150, 200ml bottles of processed, donated breast milk to their new partner Groote Schuur Hospital, Neo-natal ICU Unit.

Netcare’s Corporate Social Responsibility and the SABR Feed For Life Initiative drive the new partnership between the SABR human milk bank at Netcare Blaauwberg and Groote Schuur Hospital. The Feed For Life Initiative is a Humanitarian Franchising Model for In-hospital Human Milk Banking © aimed at decreasing infant mortality rates due to NEC, infection and HIV exposure at the perinatal stage. South Africa has one of the highest infant mortality rates, second only to Afghanistan. SABR will be donating a chest freezer to the Groote Schuur Milk Kitchen, as part of the infrastructure development to ensure the integrity of the donated breast milk is maintained at all times.

The SABR Netcare Feed for Life Initiative is present in 25 Hospitals facilities with 17 Human Milk banks and 8 SABR collection corners, supplying in excess of 40 Neo-natal Intensive Care Units, in eight of the nine provinces. In 2009 the Feed for Life Initiative ensured the survival of 948 micro premature infants.   

Breastfeeding is credited by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) of Africa as the single biggest influence on decreasing infant mortality and malnutrition, especially in the least developed countries of Africa. Neonatal infections account for the bulk of neonatal deaths in developing countries. The most effective intervention in reducing the risk of neonatal infection globally is exclusive breastfeeding. WHO argues that in Sub Saharan Africa alone, increasing breastfeeding could prevent 1.5 million children deaths per year. South Africa displays an infant mortality rate only second to that of Afghanistan.

Premature infants in South Africa’s public health sector are generally deprived of breast milk due to factors such as: shortage of rooming-in facilities for mothers, maternal deaths during birth, mothers being too ill to lactate, etc. Without breastmilk during their first two weeks of life, premature infants (especially those with a low birth weight i.e. less than 1.8 kg) are left wanting for antibodies and as such vulnerable to infections and diseases that result in hundreds of deaths annually.

Artificial feeding of premature infants is directly associated with Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC), an infection of the intestine directly associated with artificial feeding. NEC is not compatible with life and usually results in infant mortality rates exceeding 80%. NEC, not only costs lives, but falls squarely on public health-care budgets averaging, 1milion Rand per infant. The use of Donate breast milk (DNM) not only sees lives saved as well as large portions of the National Healthcare budget.

South Africa is committed to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce child deaths by two-thirds and to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. Human milk banks have a role to play in realising these MDGs by enabling increased use of donor breastmilk for pre-term and vulnerable infants to reduce mortality and morbidity. This, would require educating health care professionals on the subject of breastfeeding and human milk banking. Partnership with funders would help the local NGO groups to roll out this education on a large scale.

The SABR is a Public Benefit Organisation whose vision is to decrease infant mortality and mother-to-child transmissions (MTCT) of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), through educational programmes and the formation of numerous community-driven human milk banks and corners. A significant spin-off of decreasing premature infant mortality rates is the resultant reduction in treatment costs – saving hospitals hundreds of thousands of Rands annually.

Launch Details

Friday, 3 December 2010 (10.30 am)
Blaauwberg Netcare Hospital
Waterville Crescent,
Sunningdale, Blouberg

For interviews and additional information please contact:

Elsabe Booyens
PR & Marketing Director
Tel no: (011) 020 0348
Cell no: 076 406 2001

Date published: 
Friday, 3 December, 2010
South African Breastmilk Reserve

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