The Human Milk Bank of the Fernandes Figueira National Institute for the Health of Women, Children, and Adolescents (IFF/FIOCRUZ) participated from August 28th to September 1st in the “Brazil-CARICOM Workshop: the right to human milk as a safeguard for life: a fundamental right”, held in Barbados. The aim of the meeting was to present human milk banks as a public policy strategy to decrease infant mortality, especially during the neonatal period, allowing the discussion of the right to maternal breastfeeding and adequate nutrition as a fundamental right and the feasibility of the milk banks initiative in each of the Caribbean Community countries.
The mission included participation by representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Haiti, Granada, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago, in addition to six members of the government of Barbados and João Aprigio Guerra de Almeida, coordinator of the Global Network of Human Milk Banks, along with Danielle Aparecida da Silva, manager of the IFF Human Milk Bank, Alejandro Guilhermo Rabufetti, coordinator of the Executive Secretariat of the Ibero-American Network of Human Milk Banks, and Virgínia Valiate, also of the Ibero-American Network.
“The main theme of the week’s program was maternal breastfeeding and adequate nutrition as a fundamental right, not only a factor for newborns’ survival, but a natural and sustainable resource capable of determining an individual’s quality of life,” explained Danielle Aparecida da Silva. The motto of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, “Leaving no one behind,” was also a theme of the workshop, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Policy-makers have the role of guaranteeing access to human milk as a safeguard for the lives of thousands of newborns the world over, in addition to contributing to sustainable development in its various dimensions, as highlighted by 20 countries in the declaration called the Charter of Brasília in 2015: ‘The strides made by the countries that have implemented Human Milk Banks give legitimacy to the proposal for a Global Network of Human Milk Banks as a global association in favor of the commitments set out by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for the health sector, in its field of action,” emphasized João Aprígio Guerra de Almeida, coordinator of the Global Network.
According to Danielle Aparecida, the work done throughout the week in Barbados allowed learning about the reality of the Caribbean countries and focusing a broader discussion on this issue. “At the end of the workshop, an open discussion with the participants highlighted the importance of further work on maternal breastfeeding and the human milk banks policy to strengthen women and children’s health,” she concluded.