Updated 10 October 2016

Netcare: Save a life, donate milk

South African Breast Milk Reserve calls on women to donate milk.


According to Save the Children’s State of the World’s Mothers 2013 report, every year as many as 7 500 babies in South Africa die the same day they are born. This means that almost every hour, a newborn baby dies. However, if more women donated breast milk at one of the South African Breast Milk Reserve’s (SABR’s) 33 facilities supporting 68 hospitals in eight provinces it could help to significantly increase the chance of survival for micro premature infants (weighing less than 800 grams or being born before 26 weeks gestation) who do not have access to their mother’s own milk.

Stasha Jordan, executive director at SABR, says studies have shown that breast milk is the most critical factor in decreasing infant mortality and morbidity, especially in developing countries. “Its benefits extend beyond providing infants with basic nutrients and vitamins in their first six months of life. Breastmilk also assists them with antibodies that help fight diseases, including diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two most common causes of infant mortality worldwide.”

With World Breastfeeding Week taking place from 1 to 7 August 2013, Jordan encourages all women to visit a breastfeeding bank and donate breastmilk. In support of the SABR’s Feed for Life programme, Netcare has established breast milk banks in nine of its hospitals. “The reality is that not all mothers are able to produce breast milk for their newborns,”says Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

“Netcare has given its unequivocal support to SABR. Since mid-2007 breast milk banks have gained considerable momentum within Netcare hospitals throughout South Africa and have become an intrinsic part of the group’s corporate social investment (CSI) programme. “

Life saving resource

Backed by Netcare, SABR’s ‘Feed for Life’ initiative follows a model that encourages Public-Private Synergy (PPS) for the benefit of infants in both public and private hospital care. The initiative promotes the in-hospital harvesting of healthy donor breastmilk, as this life saving resource remains largely untapped – a concept that is feasible for both public and private healthcare facilities.  Hospitals partaking in the ‘Feed for Life’ initiative not only initiated breastmilk banking, but also increased the usage of ‘mother’s-own-milk’ within neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and the promotion of breastfeeding throughout maternity wards as well as antenatally.

“Mothers who give birth to premature babies in private facilities are encouraged and supported so that they are able to express breast milk for their babies in intensive care.  However, premature infants require fairly small quantities of breast milk and upon their release the hospital freezers are generally overloaded with leftover breast milk.  With the growing awareness amongst mothers with babies in private NICUs more and more of them are opting to become donors.”

To ensure efficient and effective use of donor breast milk as well as fair and equitable access for all infants in private and public care, the SABR Medical Advisory Board has designed strict guidelines for the use of donor breast milk in NICUs.

“Within Netcare’s hospitals and Stork’s Nest clinics we do not just render healthcare, but we make every effort to educate and inform. For us, safety as well as the prevention of highly infectious diseases and infant mortality is an extremely high priority,” adds Toubkin. 

Donation banks

Should you wish to donate breast milk, you can participate in SABR’s Pumpathon on Friday, 2 August and Saturday, 3 August 2013. This event will take place at SABR’s milk bank at Kimberley Hospital, Du Toitspan Road, Belgravia, Kimberley.

Alternatively visit the following Netcare hospitals, which run breast milk banks:  Netcare Olivedale Hospital in Randburg; Netcare Femina Hospital in Arcadia, Pretoria; Netcare Park Lane Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg; Netcare N17 Hospital in Springs; Netcare Parklands Hospital in Overport, Durban; Netcare Ferncrest Hospital in Rustenburg; Netcare The Bay Hospital in Richards Bay; Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital in Cape Town; and Netcare Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage.

For more information contact Martina Nicholson, or Graeme Swinney on (011) 469 3016 or alternatively email or


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