Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has launched Kenya’s first human milk bank at Pumwani Maternity Hospital.

The milk bank will receive and pasteurise breast milk which is expected to improve health and nutrition among vulnerable children.

The milk is heated at 60.5 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes then suddenly cooled. It is packaged and stored and can be used for six months.

In an interview with The Star, Nairobi County Nutrition Coordinator Esther Kwamboka,  said that the milk may lose a few micronutrients, such as heat-sensitive Vitamin C, because of boiling at a high temperature but such nutrients will be gotten from supplements.

“We will have a very good cold chain system during the storage to ensure as soon as the milk is out of the pasteuriser it goes straight to the fridges and freezers,” said Kwamboka.

According to the World Health Organization, donated human milk is the best alternative for mothers who are unable to feed their babies.

“We have breast milk substitutes such as formula, breast milk fortifiers and other products. With human milk, we will have fewer cases of intolerance,” added Kwamboka.

The Human Milk Bank project is funded by the UK through the Mother-Baby Friendly Initiative Plus (MBFI+) for  approximately Sh66 million.

When a mother directly breast feeds a baby that is not their own, it is referred to as wet nursing. When a mother expresses her breast milk and gives it to another mother or donates it to milk bank it is referred to as milk donation.