Medela Cares Lactation & Human Milk Initiative
for mothers of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and Medela Cares, a corporate social responsibility program are working together on a strategic initiative to improve lactation care and the use of human milk for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The project is a recognized joint commitment to the UN's Every Women Every Child Initiative (EWEC) which will be built and scaled on Medela’s scope of expertise, and its evidence-based best practices aimed at improving the use of Own Mothers Milk (OMM) in the NICU.
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival because breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life. Research has shown that 47% of the deaths of children under 5 years occur in the first 28 days of life, and these deaths are a result of preventable diseases that can be avoided through improved nutrition with the mother's milk. According to the National Demographic and Health Survey 2018, the early initiation rate of breastfeeding is 42%. This shows that a high number of children in Nigeria which is under 50% do not have access to their own mother's milk.
According to the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA Population Division), in 2020, Nigeria’s neonatal mortality rate is 35.50% per 1000 live births which affirms Nigeria as a high-burden country for neonatal mortality. Additionally, complications due to prematurity account for over 30% of neonatal mortalities (WHO child mortality reports). Through this initiative, these negative aspects are reduced with increased dose and exposure to Own Mother's Milk (OMM).
With the Larsson-Rosenquist Foundation’s dedication to promoting breastfeeding globally, Medela Cares through the Wellbeing Foundation Africa as implementing partner are deploying evidence-based knowledge and science project regarding breastmilk to help combat malnutrition and low breastfeeding rates in Nigeria by focusing on lactation care given to infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The programme, in line with the Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDG), seeks to build upon the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s vision of achieving SDG 3(Goal 3) focused on ensuring healthy living and the promotion of well-being for all ages, specifically, SDG target 3.2. which focuses on ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality by 2030.
The project aims:
· To improve the lactation care provided to mothers to improve infant feeding and ultimately health outcomes
· To upskill and enhance lactation and human milk knowledge, skills, and expertise for NICU, maternity, and affiliated health care professionals
The first phase of the project’s implementation kicked off in 3 cities in Nigeria -Abuja, Kwara, and Lagos State - in the following intervention locations:
· Maitama District Hospital (MGH)
· Asokoro District Hospital
· University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital
· General Hospital Ilorin
· Lagos Island Maternity Hospital
The initial phase of the partnership which commenced in July 2021 focused on improving neonates’ access to their Mother's Own Milk in the NICU, equipping NICUs with breastfeeding equipment, and building the capacity of healthcare workers especially, Nurses and Midwives at the designated facilities
In its execution of the project, WBFA has introduced, advocated for, and encouraged the use of Medela products in facility education settings by:
· Demonstrating and training healthcare workers and mothers in facilities on how to operate the machine.
· The commencement of breastmilk expression using the Medela products by nursing mothers at NICU wards in the assigned facilities across three states.
· The procurement and distribution of Medela equipment to 5 healthcare facilities in Nigeria.
· Improving the capacity of healthcare workers on the use of the breast pumps and other equipment donated by Medela.
· Promoting exclusive breastfeeding as mothers now have access to equipment and information on how to ensure their infants can breastfeed easily.
· Ensuring healthy outcomes for well-fed and nourished neonates who are cared for by mothers that are equipped and empowered to nurture them.
To achieve significant outcomes, WBFA will continue working with high-level neonatal facilities with a motivated and experienced healthcare team including midwives who will facilitate Mamacare 360 classes that will be integrated into the neonatal unit within the selected hospitals across Nigeria.
The Wellbeing Foundation Africa Baby-Friendly policy endorses, adheres to, and supports the World Health Organization (WHO) International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes 1981, also domesticated, and ratified in Nigeria through the Marketing of Infant and Young Children Food and other designated Products (Registration, sales etc), Regulations 2019.