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18/11/2019

Mercosur will follow Brazilian model of breast milk bank


Vanessa Aquino (Agência Saúde)

Mercosur Health Ministers, gathered in São Paulo, on November 1st, signed an agreement that allows the transfer of technology for the creation and expansion of the Breast Milk Bank program in the countries of the block. Brazil has the largest and most complex Milk Bank Network in the world, coordinated by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), which will serve as a reference for Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

“Human milk is superior to any kind of formula. For each liter of milk offered to premature children, it is possible to decrease two days of stay in the neo-natal ICU and discharge is earlier, as children gain weight faster and become more resistant”, highlighted the Health Minister of Brazil, Luiz Henrique Mandetta.

At the meeting, representatives from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay shared experiences and discussed other topics in the South American health scenario, such as epidemiological profiles and increased immunization coverage. The four ministers also signed agreements establishing knowledge exchange to fight diseases such as viral hepatitis, aggravations and non transmissible diseases, sexual health and reproductive health.

The attendees also highlighted the importance of a joint action to purchase high-cost medicine. “Within the Americas, Brazil buys medicine much cheaper because we buy for more than 200 million inhabitants. We started building a purchasing platform, but it is a path that involves actions by surveillance, customs and labeling agencies, and the issue of price transparency”, recalled the Brazilian Health Minister.

Breast Milk Bank

The Brazilian experience with the Breast Milk Bank network was also shared during the meeting. Brazil has the largest and most complex network in the world, coordinated by Fiocruz, being an international reference for over 20 countries for using strategies that combine low cost and high technology. There are 225 Human Milk Banks, each of the 26 states and Federal District (DF) have at least one. There are also 212 collection points, in addition to home collection in some states.

In 2019, Brazil signed a statement in which the BRICS countries pledged to join forces to create the first BRICS Human Milk Bank Network. 

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