With an aim to reduce infant mortality rate (IMR) in Rajasthan, (which is 47 per 1,000 live births in Rajasthan, according to the sample registration system (SRS), 2013), the state government had announced to set up mother milk banks at district hospitals of Alwar, Banswara, Baran, Bharatpur, Bhilwara, Beawar (Ajmer), Bundi, Chittorgarh, Churu and Tonk with a cost of ₹1 crore each to provide mother’s milk to newborn babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) whose mothers are unable to breastfeed them.
The first of these mother milk banks opened in Bharatpur, on September 1, 2016. The milk bank in Alwar was also opened the same month. The remaining eight became operational in the same year. As many as 1,436 women donated 243.80 litres of breast milk between September last year and February at eight government milk banks in Rajasthan. Maximum donation was received at the Alwar milk bank, this was followed by the Bharatpur bank.
Only Bharatpur and Alwar milk banks are allowed to issue donated milk to infants in hospitals. The other eight banks are only storing donated milk for now. By the end of February, 1,520 units of milk were in stock at the eight banks.
Donation of milk is voluntary, and milk is provided to needy infants free of cost. Doctors say mother milk can be kept for six hours at room temperature, for 24 hours in a fridge, and for 72 hours in freezers.
For each of the government banks, eight staff are sanctioned – six general nursing midwives (GNMs) and two class 4 employees. A senior pediatrician of the hospital is officer in-charge of the bank. Among the GNMs, one is designated as manager, one as office in-charge, one each in-charge of donor and processing rooms, and two as counsellors for outdoor and indoor patients.
Each of the 10 government banks, has a donor capacity of eight – meaning that eight mothers could donate milk at one time – processing capacity of 70 units, and storage capacity of 700 units. After fulfilling hospital needs, the banks will reach out to preterm and low-birth weight infants. “The aim of project is not to be a bank of mother milk but to promote breastfeeding.