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ROTARY-BATANGAS MEDICAL CENTER HUMAN MILKBANK 
INAUGURATION and TURNOVER CEREMONY

Written by: Mark John Thomas Buquiz

BACKGROUND OF THE PROGRAM'S INITIATIVES

Exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months does wonder to the health of a child,according to the World Health Organization(WHO).

Breast Milk is seen as the best way to improve the health of children as it contains the necessary nutrients the body can absorb. By not consuming human milk in the first few months of infancy, a child becomes more prone to life-threatening diseases.

Unfortunately, only 34% of infants under 6 months were exclusively breastfed and only 34% continue breastfeeding until two years old according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)'s 2014 State of the World’s Children report. This puts the country among the top nations with the most number of children not exclusively breastfed.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Rotary - BatMC Human Milk Bank held an inauguration last June 20, 2017. The milk bank donated by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International under TRF Global Grant no. 1747833 awarded during RY 2016-2017 with official project title “Let’s Save Infant’s Lives at Batangas Medical Center” to address one of Rotary’s Six Areas of Focus, Maternal and Child Health. This center is the first public sector human milk bank and lactation counseling center in CALABARZON which is established in collaboration and ingenuities with the Rotary International, Soroptomist International Downtown Batangas and Department of Health, Regional Office IV-A.

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The move is considered a vital component of the health policy on child and maternal program of the Department of Health.

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The inspirational speaker of the event, Melissa M. Juico, MD, FPPS, FPSNbM, Human Milk Bank Director of Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and a known maternal and children’s health advocate said the facility seeks to ensure that children born in the institution will have access to breast milk should the need arises. In accordance with her prior statement under the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, government and private health institutions are required to set up milk banks, thus the Batangas Medical Center became one of the catalyst and prime mover of this initiatives.

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Dr. Ramoncito Magnaye, Medical Center Chief of BatMC, Elizabeth Palines MD, FPPS, FPCNSP, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, Rena Cristina Koa-Malaya, MD, FPOGS, FPSRM, FPSGE, MHA, Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Joycelyn Mercado, MD,FPPS Chairman, Human Milk Bank Committee inaugurated the Calabarzon’s very first Human Milk Bank with the support of Provincial and City Government of Batangas, JCI Batangas Caballero and Rotary Club rosters of philanthropist, donors and contributors, President-Elect Zeus Mangubat, DDG Vic Cantos, RC Downtown Batangas City. DG Dindo Katigbak, D3820, DG Dwight Ramos, D3780, ASP Don Raphael Cifra, RC Downtown Batangas City, DRFC PDG Rafael Tantuco, D3820, DRFC PDG Jess Cifra, D3780 and Mrs. Helen Cipra and members of the Soroptomist International Downtown Batangas jointly unveil the marker for the event.

Everyone came in sublime arrays of professions but with common goal and perspective which is to strengthen the quality of life of Filipino children.

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Dr. Ramoncito Magnaye also stressed that the project is fueled by the continuing collaborative efforts between stakeholders such as the government, private institutions and advocates. He urged the public to take part in saving the lives of infants and young children. “Saving lives through breastfeeding is a very important investment in the future,” the medical center chief reiterated.

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Located at the main lobby of OB-Pedia Building, besides the KMC Ward and adjacent with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Batangas Medical Center, the bank aims to share human milk especially to mothers with premature or malnourished babies. The Rotary-Batangas Medical Center Human Milk Bank will collect, pasteurize, test and safely store milk donated by lactating mothers and make it available for infants in need. With the establishment of this donor human milk bank, all newborns in and around the institution will have access to life saving human milk irrespective of the circumstances of their birth. The center will protect, promote and support breastfeeding by providing lactation support to mothers with the help of dedicated lactation counselors. The facility will act as a dedicated center to support breastfeeding and improve infant survival.