A total of 243 mothers in Taguig City have benefited from the Free Breast Milk program since the local government and Taguig-Pateros District Hospital launched the project in 2015.
One of them is 23-year-old Mehara Padjing, who recounted her experience to Manila Standard on Tuesday.
“My child was born premature so he was put there, at the intensive care unit. The doctors explained that the IV placed in his body would cause a decrease in his blood sugar, which meant he would have a hard time digesting formula milk. So, we really had to find human breast milk,” she recalled.
Padjing was about to lose hope when some hospital personnel approached and told her about the facility’s human milk bank and its accompanying program for mothers.
She was told that under the program, non-lactating mothers of infants who were in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or the Premature Pathologic Neonatal Unit could avail of the breast milk from the bank for free.
“That’s why we are grateful to the TPDH that we could avail of the pasteurized milk for free, and to the donors for sharing their breast milk since like myself, can no longer supply my baby’s milk needs,” Padjing said.
The TPDH human milk bank was launched in 2015, under the administration of Taguig City Mayor Laarni Cayetano with the help of House Deputy Speaker and Taguig 2nd District Rep. Pia Cayetano.
The hospital bank, which is one of only 18 human milk banks in the country, relies on the donations of mothers who have an oversupply of breastmilk.
According to TPDH’s Lactation Counselor Alex Levantino, the milk, once donated, undergoes the pasteurization process that sees it heated for 30 minutes so bacteria like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B can be killed.
Since 2015, the bank has collected 270 liters of human milk from a total of 1,642 mothers from all over the city.
The TPDH joined the list of medical facilities named by the Department of Health as a Mother-Baby Friendly hospital.
The recognition makes the facility, situated along East Service Road, Western Bicutan, the 28th hospital in the country and the 8th local government unit hospital to have received the prestigious recognition.
Mayor Cayetano said the health department’s recognition is a testament that the hardworking officials and staff of the hospital are serious in giving top-notch medical services to the constituents.
The Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is a process aimed to promote breast feeding and in turn achieving Millennium Development Goal Program to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health.
The hospital’s strong points, which paved the way to its accreditation, include the breast-feeding policy, staff training on lactation management, strong link with the community to sustain breastfeeding, compliance with Executive Order 51 also known as the Milk Code and Republic Act 7600 or Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992.
Cayetano said she is committed to improve on the hospital’s maternal and infant care that is why a milk bank project is already in the pipeline to make this medical service a holistic approach to the people.
“We value life. We know how crucial a mother’s milk to a child’s survival. Thus, we will be putting up a milk bank to make mother’s milk accessible to those who need it the most,” she said.
TPDH now has a fully operational intensive care unit, additional beds both for newborns and adults, a CT scan, an Arterial Blood Gas Test Machine which tests blood gas, and an ultrasound machine.
As for the other medical facilities in the city, there have been significant improvements in the 31 PhilHealth-accredited barangay health centers.
Three Super Health Centers that offer services 24/7 have also been established.
Other medical services in Taguig include a door-to-door delivery of maintenance medicines for residents who have diabetes, asthma and hypertension, a citywide eye checkup, and a distribution of prescription glasses to senior citizens and students.
The “Doctors on Call” program is also designed for those who find themselves in emergency situations.