Breastfeeding is a powerful tool to prevent infant deaths and is the optimal source of nutrition and immune protection. Many babies lack access to their mother’s milk for a variety of reasons, such as when a mother is sick, unavailable, or has died. When breastfeeding is not an option, the World Health Organization recommends donated human milk as a lifesaving alternative, particularly for vulnerable infants, and has called for global scale-up of human milk banks (HMBs) to increase access.
PATH will conduct a feasibility study to assess the opportunities for developing a scalable human milk bank (HMB) model as part of a comprehensive approach for saving newborn lives. This will be done through an integration of HMB within newborn care, together with promotion of exclusive breastfeeding (BF) and Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). If successful, the project will lead to pilot implementation of HMB in Kenya. The eventual establishment of a milk bank will contribute to nutritional status of neonates.
The initial phase of this project involves establishing a foundation, developing learning exchanges, conducting formative assessment, instilling local ownership for MBFI+, and developing a Kenyaspecific strategy and guidance. The project hopes to generate demand for MBFI+ by supporting Kenyan stakeholders to adapt it to the Kenyan context and instilling ownership of the model.
The project will work closely with the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetics Unit (Kenya), Mama Lucy Kibaki (MLK) Hospital – Embakasi Constituency (Kenya), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kenya and University of Nairobi Department of Pediatrics (Kenya). Formative work will be done collaboratively with Africa Population Health Research Centre (APHRC) (Kenya). Subsequent phases could include scaling nationally and in other settings where neonatal mortality is high.