South Africa, and KwaZulu-Natal in particular, has scored a world first with the opening of a community-based breast milk bank for AIDS orphans or for babies whose HIV-infected mothers have deserted them.
The bank is the brainchild of Professor Anna Coutsoudis, researcher and associate professor in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Care at the Nelson Mandela Medical School of the University of Natal in Durban.
She said on Tuesday that she and her colleagues had become aware of the need for this service while working with AIDS orphans and abandoned babies in children's homes and in hospitals.
At the same time, many women had approached her, wanting to do something practical to offset the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
We now have 30 women on our books who are prepared to contribute to the scheme. The mothers have to be free of any infectious diseases or drugs, and all the milk is
The milk has to be kept in sterile plastic bags in a freezer and it is stored in a central depot, Prof Coutsoudis said. She said that, where possible, a mother nursing a baby of a certain age, was twinned with an AIDS orphan or needy baby of the same age.
The project was named the Ithembalethu (I Have A Destiny) Breast milk Bank because it was linked to the Ithembalethu Home for AIDS orphans in Umbilo. Eventually, she hoped that the community-based concept could be extended to other areas of South Africa. Prof Coutsoudis said the project was a voluntary service, funded by the United Nations Children's Fund.
The secretary of the Ithembalethu project is Mrs Shirley Royal and her telephone numbers are (031) 303 9138 and 082 822 7971.
Source: The Mercury, 23 October 2001