Love was all around Valentine’s morning, as Kalafong Hospital CEO, Dr Manei Letebele-Hartell, on behalf of Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, launched Kalafong Hospital’s revamped milk bank, a facility that has supported the saving of over 4 000 infant lives in the past decade.
The launch takes place during Pregnancy Awareness Week (10 – 16 February). This week aims to educate pregnant women and new mothers in becoming proactive in early antenatal care, breastfeeding and family planning. The R600 000 upgrades, sponsored by the South African Breastmilk Reserve and Discovery, will result in thousands more lives being saved by the pasteurized donated breast milk.
“As we observe Pregnancy Awareness Week, and collaborate towards decreasing infant mortality in the under-five population, we highlight the critical role that early detection of pregnancy and antenatal care play in reducing prematurity and infant mortality rates,” says Dr Ramokgopa.
The one-of-a-kind semi-mobile clean-room laboratory is equipped with state of the art pasteurisation equipment and remote temperature monitoring that ensures optimal temperatures for milk storage. The room also houses a High Efficiency Particulate (HEP) air filter to purify the air, and other necessary equipment that allows the milk bank to meet with all regulations and requirements for sustainable breastmilk donation.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is the best option for all infants, but many premature infants simply cannot breastfeed optimally, or their mothers cannot produce the breast milk they desperately need to survive.” says Stasha Jordan, SABR Executive Director. “That is why facilities like this milk bank are so critical to these vulnerable babies,” she continues.
“Kalafong was the first public sector hospital where SABR launched a milk bank eleven-years ago in 2008, and so today is very special for us as we reflect on how far we have all come in this journey to save the lives of the most vulnerable in our community,” Jordan concludes.
“Pregnancy Awareness Week is a time that reminds us all of the important role a mother plays in ensuring her baby’s health, both in the womb and after birth. Premature mortality is often preventable, and is our biggest obstacle in achieving the third Sustainable Development Goal (the reduction of mortality in the under-five age group to 25 deaths per 1 000 live births by 2030), we need to start taking responsibility for our pregnancies and our maternal and infant health,” Dr Ramokgopa concludes.
To get involved with the SABR by increasing breastfeeding rates, sourcing donor mothers and funding for the operation of the milk banks, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.