TACLOBAN CITY, 23 August (PIA) -- The Family Health Unit (FHU) of the Department of Health Region VIII (DOH-8) held its 2nd Regional Breastfeeding Forum at Leyte Park Hotel on August 20, 2019, this city.
Various private and public hospital representatives, government and non-government organizations and rural health units in Eastern Visayas participated in the event.
DOH hailed the month of August to celebrate Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the country in adherence to Republic Act 10028 also known as the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act with its current theme "Lakas ng Magulang, Sigla ng Pagpapasuso-Kalusugan, Nutrisyon at Kinabukasan ng Kabataan" and Republic Act 7600 or the Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992.
According to Dr. Milagros Salvacion Bolito, head of the Family Health Unit, 54 percent of children who died below five years old is due to malnutrition in developing countries like the Philippines.
Breastfeeding, according to a study, addresses the issue on malnutrition from birth until two years of life.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 13 percent of children's death can be prevented annually through proper breastfeeding.
RA 7600 promotes and encourages the practice of breastfeeding in the country especially in all government and private health institutions.
The law covers the establishment and operation of human milk banks and donation of human milk.
In Eastern Visayas, the first human milk bank is operating at the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) which was donated by UNICEF.
The human milk bank gathered 132 liters of human milk from January to December 2018 and has dispensed 121 liters.
Human milk is usually dispensed during emergencies where babies are vulnerable to malnutrition.
When Typhoon Urduja hit Biliran Province in 2017, the human milk bank dispensed around 20 liters of breastmilk to the affected babies.
According to Dr. Gemma Ramos, the human milk bank focal person, human milk is purely donation from lactating mothers.
The donated human milk is cultured before pasteurization for 62.5 degree Celsius for 30 minutes to kill bacteria.
Dr. Ramos added that they collect human milk and process by batch. The human milk can last for six months to one year from donation as long as it is frozen.
The DOH official added that human milk is required for the newly born child and not formula milk.
In addition, Ramos reiterated that all government and public health institutions should be compliant to AO 2007-0026 or the Revitalization of Mother-Baby Friendly Health Initiatives (MBFHI).
"We continue to encourage our hospitals to promote breastfeeding facilities and to end practices against EO 51 in accepting gifts from milk company," Ms. Felecita R. Borata, regional nutritionist said.
Ms. Borata said that there are three MBFHI accredited hospitals namely EVRMC, RTR Hospital, both in Tacloban City and Our Lady of Porziuncola Hospital Inc. in Calbayog City.
In the closing message, Regional Nutrition Coordinator, Dr. Catalino Dotollo strongly encouraged the first-time mothers to visit health facilities and be oriented to breastfeeding health benefits not only for babies but also for the lactating moms. (NBQ/RSP/PIA-8)