The Namibia Breast Milk Bank (NBMB) was officially inaugurated on Monday, 05 August 2019 by the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health & Social Services (MoHSS). Operational since April 2018, the NBMB has fed well over 100 premature babies to date.
Officiating the opening of the NBMB, the Executive Director of the MoHSS, Ben Nangombe, stressed on the importance of breastfeeding and what impact this has on the health and well-being of children. Nangombe: “Babies that are breastfed have a higher chance of a healthier life. The NBMB has the potential to contribute significantly to the overall well-being of our babies, who are our future leaders.”
Nangombe expressed his gratitude towards the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group and ErongoMED for empowering the NBMB, and called on Namibia and potential breast milk donors to support the bank and contribute to the successful implantation of its vision for the country.
In his address at the inauguration event, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the O&L Group, Wessie van der Westhuizen applauded the NBMB for the passion behind this purposeful initiative. Van der Westhuizen: “O&L has always been passionate about children and the role the Breast Milk Bank plays in society speaks directly to the O&L purpose, “Creating a future, Enhancing life”.
This facility will provide a better start in life for babies in need and will give them a better opportunity to live a full and healthy life. We became involved with the breast milk bank in mid-2018, covering administrative costs such as rent, laboratory expenses and other expenses in the collection, storing, pasteurization and dissemination of milk.
We have also established a website www.nbmb.com.na and encourage corporates and individuals to familiarize themselves with the NBMB and get involved where they can. O&L will continue in its support of the NBMB for the next financial year.”
One of the greatest challenges faced according to NBMB Director, Prof. Clarissa Pieper, is the lack of breast milk donors.
Pieper: “Natural breast milk is much healthier than formula milk and contributes significantly to the baby’s physical and mental development. Sadly, many premature babies end up in unfortunate situations where they do not have direct access to breast milk – their mother has passed away after giving birth, or are simply unable to breastfeed due to health reasons.
Premature babies weighing 1,5kg and below are more prone to infections and are more protected when receiving breastmilk.”
Other challenges faced, according Pieper is the bank’s dream to do the payments for blood tests of donors. “It costs money, and will require funding – which we do not have at this point.” She calls on mothers to come forth and support this cause of feeding babies of mothers that cannot provide enough of her own breast milk.
In order to qualify as beneficiary of the Donor Breast Milk (DBM), babies should weigh 1.5kg or less and their mothers are not self-sufficient in terms of providing breast milk. From April 2018 until April 2019 the NBMB has provided pasteurized breast milk to approximately 100 babies of which about 60 are state referrals and the rest are from the private sector.