Human milk banks provide safe breast milk to infants in emergency situations, such as those who are affected by disasters, are critically ill or born prematurely. Breast milk provides all the nourishment that infants need in their first six months of life.
It’s critical that newborns must be exclusively breastfed (i.e. feeding them only breast milk, not even water, during the first six months) to give them a healthy start in life.
According to a 2017 report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, only 34% of children under six months in the Philippines are exclusively breastfed.
UNICEF supported the establishment of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) Human Milk Bank in Tacloban City, Leyte, by providing special equipment and training for staff. Because the hospital is a rescue and relief operations hub in a typhoon-prone region, it has the potential to provide breast milk to vulnerable children in six provinces.