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Nursing Mothers Shun Breast Milk Bank 

By Elvis Tah

Did you know that there is a breast milk bank at the Buea Regional Hospital Annex? You will again be marvelled by the fact that the human breast milk can be pasteurized and stored in a freezer, to be used in nourishing desperate babies.

Ayukojong, opening breastmilk bank

Unfortunately, this edifying development has not been warmly received by the population as some women continue to distant themselves from it. A midwife and pasteurizer of the breast milk bank at the Buea Regional Hospital Annex, Susanlynch Ayukojong Nkoyo, has expressed regret that some women prefer pasteurized animal milk to pasteurized human milk.

"When we started the breast milk bank, women were cheerfully donating their breast milk; unfortunately, mothers of desperate babies were reticent to allow their babies consume the milk. They argued that they cannot allow their babies to consume breast milk from another woman," Ayukojong said. She said, other women said they could not give out their breast milk for the bank because it will reduce the quantity meant for their babies.

"We stopped collecting the milk at one time because we realised that it was needless collecting the milk from people when the babies are not there to consume them," she said.
On how to collect and pasteurize the milk, she said it is collected from the donor and tested in the laboratory for bacteria and pathogens before being pasteurised.

"From the point of collecting the milk, we do a lot of screening. We interview the woman to get a little background from the time she was pregnant. We try to find out whether she smoked cigarette or drank alcohol during pregnancy.""There are certain diseases such as HIV/AIDS, syphilis, tuberculosis that if a woman had, she cannot donate milk. So, after our screening, if we find the woman free of such diseases, we can collect her breast milk for the bank," says the midwife.

She explained that before they collect the milk, the collector wears a mask, apron and globes. She said the collector washes the breast thoroughly with fumigated water and then collect the milk in a test tube and take it to the lab for bacteriology, for 24 hours. She said the rest of the milk is stored in the refrigerator until the results are out. "The ones that are pathogen free are mixed together and pasteurised, then poured in a special bottle with a lid and are stored in a freezer where it can last for about three months," Ayukojong said.

According to Ayukojong, the milk is collected only in the morning, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. She maintained that each time a bottle is removed from the freezer, it cannot be restored. "Once the baby consumes the milk and there is a left over, we put it back into the fridge, but not in the freezer, for 24 hours and if it is not consumed within that period, we discard it."

Ayukojong explains that: "When we want to feed a baby, we remove the quantity of milk from the freezer, which is in solid form and we stand the bottle in hot water so that the milk dissolves and maintains the temperature of normal breast milk for the baby to intake."The midwife stated that women are sensitized during health talks on the advantages of breast milk and after that, they are prayed to donate some of their breast milk to be pasteurized to feed desperate children.

Origin Of Breast Milk Bank 

According to Ayukojong, the breast milk bank was introduced in 2007, by Dr. Peter Mc Cormick from the UK. It is situated in the Family Planning Unit and the Infant Welfare Clinics of the Buea Regional Hospital. "It was introduced so that we can collect milk from donors, pasteurise them and help children who are unable to have breast milk due to one reason or the other."

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