Panama trains professionals in human milk processing and quality control

Bebé siendo alimentado de leche humana a través de una jeringa

Montevideo, June 8, 2023. Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the most effective interventions to ensure that newborns survive and develop fully. Human milk provides essential nutrients, protects against infection and promotes optimal physical and cognitive development. Human Milk Banks represent an essential strategy in situations where breastfeeding is not possible.

In this context, the Ministry of Health of Panama and the Hospital del Niño Dr. José Renán Esquivel, in collaboration with PAHO/WHO, the Global Network of Human Milk Banks and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation of Brazil launched, on June 7, a course of Professional improvement in processing and quality control of human milk: theory and practice in dialogue. The course is aimed at professionals who will work in the processing and control of human milk at the Human Milk Bank of the Hospital del Niño and will last for a period of three months.

The director of the Hospital del Niño, Paul Gallardo, said that this training will allow staff to be updated on best practices for the processing and quality control of human milk. He also mentioned that this action is part of the institutional strategies for the implementation of a "modern and comfortable human milk bank with the highest technological standards that will allow us to carry out efficient pasteurisation processes, greatly reducing the possible loss of nutrients with the processing and preservation of breast milk".

For her part, the Director General of Public Health of the Ministry indicated that this initiative seeks to guarantee the institution's objectives in promoting the development and the right to health of newborns.

The regional advisor on Perinatal Health of the Latin American Centre for Perinatology - Women's and Reproductive Health (CLP/WR), Pablo Durán, participated virtually and referred to the relevance of human milk banks and the importance of training human resources to guarantee the quality of the milk. "We must guarantee access to human milk as a fundamental right. We know the enormous benefits for the health and optimal development of newborns, particularly for those who are underweight or born prematurely.

In addition, the CLP/WR advisor stated that the human milk banks in the region have proven to be a successful experience with very positive results and highlighted the networking that is carried out.  In this regard, it should be noted that the Global Network of Human Milk Banks and the Fernando Filgueiras Institute are WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centres.

The issue of human milk banks is linked to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 "Hunger 0" and SDG 3, which is related to health and which, among other things, covers the need to reduce newborn mortality. There are still challenges in meeting the commitments made by countries in the framework of the SDGs, which is why this type of initiative is essential to continue making progress and guaranteeing the rights of children and their families.