Health and Family Welfare Secretary CK Mishra today inaugurated ‘Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh’, a National Human Milk Bank and Lactation Counselling Centre at the Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), in Delhi.
‘Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh’, which is established in collaboration with the Norwegian Government, Oslo University and Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI), will collect, pasteurize, test and safely store milk that has been donated by lactating mothers and make it available for infants in need. In addition, this facility will protect, promote and support breastfeeding of their own healthy mothers by providing lactation support to mothers through dedicated lactation counsellors. This project will not only act as a dedicated centre to support breastfeeding and improve infant survival but also act as the teaching, training and demonstration site for other milk banks to be established under the Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare.
Speaking on the occasion, Mishra congratulated the LHMC, Delhi for this initiative and said that this would be the largest human milk bank and lactation counselling centre available under the public sector in North India.
The Health Secretary said that it is envisaged that with this donor human milk bank, all newborns in and around Delhi will have access to life saving human milk regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
Mishra said that even when we know the potential of mother’s milk for a child, breastfeeding rates are low in India. “The early initiation of breastfeeding is only 40%, even when the institutional delivery has increased to 78.9%. “In view of this, we launched Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA) programme to create awareness regarding breastfeeding as being the most cost-effective way of enhancing the child’s immunity,” he said.
The Health Secretary further said that the decline in maternal and child mortality in India is much faster than the global average rate of decline and thanked the frontline workers for their dedicated work. “We are poised to enhance Universal Health Coverage in the country and are conscious of quality issues. Several efforts are underway through NHM to improve affordability, quality and access to healthcare services,” Mishra elaborated.
Nils Ragnar Kamsvag, Ambassador of Norway to India, was also present at the occasion.
Addressing the gathering, the Ambassador said that human milk increases survival rate for those neonates whose mother cannot produce enough milk. “I am proud in being a partner with Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) in this endeavor and I am confident that this will provide guidance, inspiration and guidelines for more such milk banks for helping sick newborn babies,” he said and complimented the government for the MAA initiative.