The D Y Patil Medical College Hospital and Research Centre in Pune now has a dedicated Mother’s Milk Bank, thanks to the initiative of RC Nigdi-Pune, RID 3131. The 100-member club joined hands with Rotary Clubs of Finland and Wien, Austria, and TRF, to establish this life-saving facility at the hospital costing $65,700. It involved the import of sophisticated equipment to preserve and provide human milk in its safest form for neonates.
Three years ago, the D Y Patil Hospital, which delivered at least 20 babies a day, was operating a milk bank on a small scale. “We were on the lookout for a partner to implement a human milk bank project. That’s when the then president of RC Nigdi Dr Shubangi Kothari discussed the issue with the Centre Head Dr Shailaja Mane and things started rolling,” says Club President Subhash Jaysinghani. Kothari appointed past president Ravi Rajapurkar as director for the project which sought a global grant as the estimate worked to over $65,000.
Prashanth Deshmukh, the then governor, and DRFC Deepak Shikarpur contributed $13,000 from the DDF and Rotary clubs from Finland came forward to help as “we had already partnered with them for a phaco machine eye care project in Ethiopia through PDG Virpi Honkala.”
With Virpi’s initiative, five districts — 1360, 1380, 1390, 1400 and 1410 from Finland — contributed $15,000, while RC Wien, RID 1910, Austria, pitched in with $4,000 and Rotary Clubs of Pradhikaran Pune, Chinchwad Morya and Akurdi contributed $500 each. With a matching amount from TRF, a sophisticated milk bank with state-of-the-art equipment took shape at the hospital.
The milk bank now has a capacity of pasteurising nine litres of milk in two hours, which will benefit not only the infants in this hospital but also the newborns in other hospitals in the vicinity. “The hospital estimates that the facility will annually serve 1,800 newborns from this hospital, along with an additional number of 2,500 babies from neighbourhood hospitals and clinics,” says Jaysinghani.
An MoU signed with the hospital declares that the hospital will bear the operating cost and provide the facility free for newborn babies. The centre has a research and training facility which will promote awareness among mothers and the community at large of the need for breastmilk and its impact in reducing infant mortality. “We reiterate the fact that apart from it being the ideal nutritious food for neonates, human milk reduces the risk of diseases in both mother and child. The human milk bank is the best solution for women who have excess milk,” he says. Needless to say the wonders it does for babies whose mothers can’t breast feed them are immeasurable.
The facility was inaugurated in January in the presence of PDG Virpi and six other Rotarians from Finland.