Human milk bank services are an essential component of a breastfeeding-friendly health system. Such services give small and sick babies access to the multiple benefits of breastmilk by providing safe donor human milk. Currently, a total of 37 human milk banks are operating in five countries in the Southeast Asia region: Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The Minimum Standards for the Establishment and Operation of Human Milk Banks in Southeast Asia, developed through a series of country-level and regional consultations with human milk banking experts, provides core recommendations, protocols and activities that together comprise minimum acceptable requirements for the recruitment and screening of human milk donors and the donation, processing, storage, testing, labelling and distribution of donor human milk throughout the region.
The Standards aim to facilitate the further development of national, regional and local recommendations and guidelines as well as operating procedures for the safe and sustainable delivery of optimal quality donor human milk from human milk banks to infants throughout the region. They will form the basis upon which human milk banks in countries in Southeast Asia may be accredited and the basis on which related national legislation may be developed.
The development of the Standards was spearheaded by the Regional Human Milk Bank Network in Southeast Asia – a group of human milk bank experts and practitioners with the mission of supporting breastfeeding and promoting safe human milk banking in the region. Technical consultations for the standards development were facilitated by the Human Milk Bank Association of the Philippines (HMBAP), with strategic technical assistance from Alive & Thrive (A&T).