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Fiocruz is designated as a WHO Collaborating Center to strengthen Human Milk Banks


Everton Lima (IFF/Fiocruz)


This March 2021, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) designated the National Institute for Women's, Children's and Adolescent Health Fernandes Figueira (IFF/Fiocruz) as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center to strengthen Human Milk Banks. The designation as a Collaborating Center will be valid for a four years period, starting on March 3, 2021, and can be renewed by redesignation.

The designation as a Paho/WHO partner is valid for four years (Photo: Peter Ilicciev)


A Collaborating Center is an institution designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) General-Director to join an international collaborative network to carry out technical activities and support programs in the area of health. The WHO has around 800 Collaborating Centers around the world. In Brazil, there are 20, of which six are at Fiocruz.

The Global Network of Human Milk Banks (rBLH) coordinator and WHO's Dr. Lee Jong-wook Public Health Prize 2020, João Aprígio Guerra de Almeida, will serve as the Center's director. The Human Milk Banks Network structured by João Aprígio in Brazil is considered an international reference and the global network is already present in 30 countries, acting as a key strategy in reducing newborn mortality.

"We feel very honored by this designation and with a much-expanded sense of responsibility. Being a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Center is a huge responsibility that coincides with the role of Fiocruz as a State agency and of IFF/Fiocruz as a reference in the area of women's, children's and adolescents' health. The performance of the Institute's Human Milk Bank as a historical reference has 35 years and progressively grows in scale and responsibilities. On behalf of the entire team, we reinforce our commitment as Fiocruz and renew our vows to PAHO/WHO, so that our Human Milk Bank reference acts as a strategic action for the neonatal care qualification for food and nutritional security as well as for infants, within the framework of the 2030 Agenda, working with all cooperating and collaborating countries. This is our vision and our commitment as IFF/Fiocruz and rBLH," says João Aprígio.

The researcher highlights the main objectives of the collaboration: "Our focus as a Collaborating Center for the area is on the 2030 Agenda in the Global Health context, supporting the countries that are part of PAHO/WHO so that the milk bank networks in these countries can be strengthened and act as a strategy to promote child health. Our work aims especially at absolutely vulnerable, small, premature, low birth weight children who depend on human milk as a survival factor, and also for those children who, once they have passed this stage, have human milk as an important food for healthy growth and development. It is worth remembering that we, Human Milk Banks, are not human dairies. On the contrary, we are strategies to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding, both at the in-hospital level and seeking articulation with primary care. This is our commitment. Our focus is to support the Ministries of Health/cooperating countries Health Systems in the implementation of actions that enhance their Human Milk Banks performance in favor of children's health in their respective territories".

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