The Nectar of Life

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Norway supports the establishment of the first National Human Milk Bank in India.

Last week, the National Human Milk Bank and Lactation Counselling Centre was inaugurated at the Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC). The human milk bank is established in collaboration with the Oslo University Hospital, the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) and Fredskorpset (FK Norway).

“Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh” is a national human milk bank and lactation counselling centre that will collect, pasteurize, test and safely store milk that has been donated by lactating mothers, so that it is available for infants in need. In addition, this facility will promote and support general breastfeeding by providing lactation support to women who have just given birth.

Addressing the gathering, Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg 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 in this endeavor and I am confident that the Human Milk Bank will provide guidance, inspiration and training for other institutions wishing to set up milk banks to help sick, newborn babies,” Kamsvåg said.

Also speaking on the occasion, Health Secretary Shri C K Mishra congratulated the LHMC 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. Shri Mishra said that even when we know the potential of mother’s milk for a child, breastfeeding rates are low in India, which underline the importance of creating awareness regarding breastfeeding as being the most cost-effective way of enhancing the child’s immunity. Last year the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA) - a flagship program for promotion of breastfeeding.

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. Shri Misra also mentioned that the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) is a highly appreciated and successful cooperation between Norway and India.