BREAST MILK BANK. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson shows a thumbs-up sign after conducting an ocular inspection of the just-opened human milk bank at the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City on Tuesday (March 29, 2022). The facility is the first-ever human milk bank to be established in Negros Island. (Photo courtesy of PIO Negros Occidental)

BACOLOD CITY – The Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital (TLJPH) in Silay City opened on Tuesday the first-ever human milk bank in Negros Island.

The Negros Occidental provincial government has partnered with the Rotary Club of Metro Bacolod for the initiative to provide breast milk for newborn.

Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson acknowledged the Rotary and its chapters for being a partner of the province in achieving multi-faceted goals.

“This milk bank is an answer to the growing need for breast milk, not just for optimum nutrition, but most importantly, to save the lives of Negrense babies, especially the vulnerable and premature ones,” Lacson said during the inauguration.

The milk bank will receive milk supply from breastfeeding mothers, and provide proper pasteurization and storage.

The milk will be available for free to infants whose mothers cannot produce sufficient amounts of breast milk after giving birth.

The beneficiaries will be mainly those from indigent families.

Dr. Mary Ann Maestral, chief of TLJPH, said they have long lobbied for the establishment of the milk bank, but they faced difficulties in pursuing the project.

It was eventually realized when the province collaborated with the Rotary Club to establish the facility, she added.

"There are many mothers who produce extra breast milk while there are those who don't produce enough. We have the most number of patients giving birth (in the province). Even without the milk bank before, those with more milk share with other babies," Maestral added.

She said premature babies will mostly benefit from the milk supply, stressing that they will have greater chances of survival if fed with mother's milk.

The inauguration was also attended by Rotary Club of Metro Bacolod president Jeinz Kreistein Salgado, coordinator of human milk bank project; Dr. Girlie Pinongan, head of Hospital Operations Department; Dr. Jean Alojado, head of TLJPH Pediatrics Department; and former congressman and provincial consultant on economic affairs Alfredo Benitez. (PNA)