Saving Newborn Lives by Scaling an Integrated Human Milk Bank and Breastfeeding Promotion Platform in Kenya

Organization Location: 
Seattle, Washington

Many of the 39,000 annual neonatal deaths in Kenya could be prevented by increasing babies’ access to human milk (HM). Breastfeeding (BF) is considered a pillar of child survival, however, more than 15% of vulnerable infants—pre-term, low-birth weight, sick, or orphaned—do not have access to their own mother’s milk. The World Health Organization recommends donor HM and has called to globally increase access by establishing human milk banks (HMBs), an evidence-based intervention shown to significantly reduce neonatal morbidity and mortality. We propose to scale and evaluate an innovative integrated HMB platform, the Mother and Baby Friendly Initiative Plus (MBFI+), specifically tailored for the Kenyan context. Building on the global HMB model in Brazil, this unique compound intervention will nest HMBs within BF promotion to achieve maximum impact. This project will utilize science and evidence supporting HM as lifesaving, the technology implementation of establishing a MBFI+ model in two Kenya hospitals, and demonstrate the service delivery and demand generation capability to determine impact on optimal BF practices and neonatal health. As an alternative to infant formula, or stand-alone HMBs or BF promotion programs, the MBFI+ model positions HMBs as welcoming “hubs” for breastfeeding support. Under this award, we will establish local commitment and demonstrate the effectiveness and potential cost savings of an MBFI+ platform in Kenya and position it for national adoption.

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