What is a milk bank?


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What is a milk bank?

A donor milk bank is a service that screens, collects, processes and distributes human breast milk. The recipients of the breast milk are vulnerable pre-term infants, babies orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS and special cases where mothers are unable to supply sufficient milk for their babies. This milk has been donated by volunteer breastfeeding mothers who are not related to the recipient infants.


Healthy breastfeeding mothers in the community who wish to become donors contact the breast milk bank. Mothers then under-go a screening process, which involves a lifestyle questionnaire and blood tests for HIV/AIDS and Syphilis. Mothers are then given advice on expressing breast milk and they are given bottles to store breast milk. Bottles with expressed breast milk are labelled with the donor mother’s number and date of expression and are then frozen. Frozen breast milk is collected from the donor’s house and then pasteurised and frozen until needed. Milk banks use The Holder method of pasteurisation (62.5C for 30 minutes) which has been well researched and kills viruses and bacteria, yet retains all the nutrients and most of the immune properties.

Milk storage
Milk pasteurisation
Breast milk nutritional information
Milk is given to HIV orphans

Milk pasteurisation

Milk storage

Milk given to HIV orphans

Milk nutritional information

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Milk given to premature baby

Milk is given to premature babies

PATH Brochures

PATH is an international non-profit organization that creates sustainable, culturally relevant solutions, enabling communities worldwide to break longstanding cycles of poor health.  By collaborating with diverse public-and-private-sector partners, PATH helps provide appropriate health technologies and vital strategies that change the way people think and act. (www.path.org)


PATH collaborated with HMBASA and Milk Banks in South Africa to produce brochures to promote Human Milk Banking in South Africa.