On Tuesday over 78 lactating mothers from Surat, Gujarat, donated as much as 3.75 litre of human milk at a milk donation camp jointly organized by Surat Paediatric Association, Yashoda Human Milk Bank and Surti Modh Vanik Mahila Mandal. The camp was held at Wankawala Hospital near Majura Gate. Surat was the first city to establish a human milk bank and conduct milk donation camp. The first such camp was held in the city in 2009-10 and till now 15 such camps have been successfully organized. In a report by The Times Of India, Dr Poonam Singh of Yashoda Milk bank said, “What is heartening is the fact that women from different communities have been turning up to participate at the camp and we hope that in future more mothers would contribute for such noble cause.”
According to a BBC report, to prevent infant deaths, the charity Save the Children says breast milk, which it describes as superfood for newborns, is the most effective solution, particularly when a baby is breastfed immediately after birth and exclusively for the first six months. The World Health Organisation and Unicef agree – with both endorsing this advice. Despite major inroads in reducing child mortality – from 2.3 million deaths of children under the age of five in 2001 to 1.4 million in 2012 – India still accounts for 20 per cent of infant mortality globally. Over half of these deaths are of babies under 28 days old, according to a Lancet report. Doctors say in India the main killers are infections and low birth weight that blight infants in their first month, and diarrhoea and pneumonia later on.
In Surat, the next camp will be held in June 2016. It would be conducted by two US students who conducted a camp in 2014-15 in the city. In Surat, women’s NGOs like Umiya Mahila Mandal and Modh Vanik Mahila Mandal have been helping in conducting such camps.