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Brazil receives international award for actions to reduce infant mortality

Brazil receives international award for actions to reduce infant mortality

The Brazilian experience of the Human Milk Bank, which provides breastmilk to low-birth-weight babies, has already been replicated in over 20 countries. Breastmilk has everything a baby needs for the first six months of life and protects it from disease.

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2020, 10:10 p.m. Last update on Sunday, February 9, 2020, 10:10 p.m.

Brazil’s initiatives to reduce infant mortality have been recognized internationally. Last Saturday (February 9), the World Health Organization (WHO) granted the Dr. Lee Jong-wook Public Health Award to Brazilian researcher João Aprígio de Almeida for his work while heading the Brazilian Human Milk Bank Network. It is one of the most important awards in the healthcare field. 

“Brazil has an innovative project and we are committed to expanding this network both inside and outside the country. It is a pleasure to contribute to reducing infant mortality,” says Aprígio.

In international forums, the Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, has defended breastfeeding and the guarantee of access to human milk as a fundamental and effective strategy for reducing infant mortality worldwide.

“Human milk is superior to any type of formula. Each liter of milk offered to premature children shaves two days off their stay in the neonatal ICU and hospital discharge is earlier, as children gain weight faster and become more resistant”, highlighted the Brazilian Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

Brazil achieved the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG 4) for reducing mortality in children under five prior to many countries and four years ahead of schedule, with the mortality rate dropping from 53.7 to 17.7 deaths per thousand live births from 1990 to 2011. In 2017, the infant mortality rate (children under 5) was 13.4 deaths per thousand live births – a 3.9% reduction compared to the previous year (13.9).

HUMAN MILK BANK IN BRAZIL

Brazil has the largest and most complex network in the world, an is an international benchmark for using strategies that combine low cost and cutting-edge technology. The Global Human Milk Bank Network (RBLH) is an initiative of the Ministry of Health, through the Fernandes Figueira Institute (IFF/Fiocruz). There are 225 Human Milk Banks and 212 collection points, in addition to home collection in some states. Thus, about 160,000 liters of human milk are distributed every year to low-birth-weight newborns.

The Brazilian network is responsible for collecting and distributing breastmilk under strict control standards to low-birth-weight newborns. Breastmilk has everything a baby needs for the first six months of life and protects it from diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory infections and allergies. It is therefore an important strategy for reducing infant deaths.

In 2019, the countries that make up the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), in addition to Mercosur (Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay), decided to adopt the Brazilian model for the Human Milk Bank. The Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, also inaugurated the first Human Milk Bank in Angola last year, as a result of technical cooperation with Brazil.

From the Health Agency

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