Photo: CubaSI

The opening of the island’s tenth Human Milk Bank at the Gustavo Aldereguía Hospital in the province of Cienfuegos helps strengthen the network of institutions of this type and places Cuba third among Latin American nations with the highest rate of breast milk banks per million inhabitants, surpassed only by Brazil and Uruguay.

Dr. Roberto Álvarez Fumero, head of the Ministry of Public Health’s Maternal and Child Health Program, explained that the new bank forms part of the gradual development of the network, which has been possible thanks to sustained cooperation between the Cuban government, the Ministry of Public Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

Human Milk Banks help guarantee this vital substance for those infants who are seriously ill or require surgery in the first days of life, and whose mothers’ can not provide them with breast milk.

Dr. Álvarez Fumero also noted that over the past year, the country’s network of milk banks – which covers 60% of the island’s provinces – has offered some 10,988 women assistance and guidance on correct breastfeeding techniques and how to donate milk. Of these, 5,293 donated milk, providing a total of 1,591 liters, which have benefited 2,021 newborns, that is almost one in four premature births and 2% of all newborns in the country.

In the first half of 2017, three out of ten assisted mothers donated milk, providing 726 liters to the benefit of 387 newborns. As such, the indications are that this year will close with even better results than the last.

Dr. Álvarez Fumero emphasized the solidarity and altruistic values of the many Cuban mothers who, in the act of donating their breast milk, not only provide another infant with the benefits their own enjoy, but also help to save the lives of hundreds of Cuban children.