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North West Health sets up breast milk banks in four districts

North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha.

North West Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha calls on mothers to breastfeed to strengthen the immune system of infants. Picture: Molaole Montsho

Published Aug 2, 2022

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Rustenburg - The North West province has established breast milk banks in the four districts of the province, as part of intervention to support the breastfeeding systems.

North West Health MEC Madoda Sambatha has called on mothers to step up and ensure they strengthen the immune system of infants by opting to breastfeed.

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“Breast milk provides the ideal nourishment for infants. It contains all the nutrients and antibodies that infants require to grow and to ward off illnesses,” Sambatha said.

He said the provincial department of health has establish breast milk bank facilities at the Potchefstroom Hospital in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, Mahikeng Provincial, in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District, Joe Morolong Memorial in the Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District and Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital in the Bojanala District, as part of a departmental intervention mechanism intended to support the breastfeeding systems.

“These breast milk banks act as reservoirs for neonates born with very low birth weight and for mothers who are unable to breastfeed due to medical conditions or are unavailable due to death after birth.”

Sambatha said according to a study conducted by Professor Priya Soma-Pillay, head of department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Pretoria, cited South Africa as one of the countries in the African continent with low exclusive breastfeeding rates and poor child-feeding practices.

“While breastfeeding is common in South Africa, the majority of infants 0-6 months are not given breast milk exclusively. This early introduction of other fluids and foods called mixed feeding is responsible for high rates of diarrhoea and contributes significantly to infant malnutrition and deaths," he said.

He said the department of health together with health professionals, recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

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“No other food or liquid is needed during this period. Continued breastfeeding for two years or longer with the introduction of appropriate complementary foods is also ideal.“

The North West province has planned a series of awareness campaigns to celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated annually on the first week of August.

World Breastfeeding Week, is the global campaign that aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages, following a surge in the infant mortality rate due to a drop in the number of mothers who opted to breastfeed.

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“The department of health in the North West province will be embarking on a series of awareness campaigns across all districts to amplify the message to educate and support breastfeeding initiatives. We therefore urge all young mothers and fathers to support these natural nutritious efforts for healthy babies,” Sambatha said.

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