Breastmilk is a sought-after substance; especially for the prematurely born babies who cannot digest milk formula, and for the 50% of mothers who cannot breastfeed their early arrivals. With about 10% of all births being premature, there is a large gap in the Israeli system when it comes to feeding and nourishment for premature babies, especially when being given breastmilk reduces the likelihood of their rehospitalization by 70%.
Though the idea of a breastmilk bank was presented over a decade ago, Israel still has no official breastmilk bank. These milk banks exist around the developed world in order to guarantee that, mostly premature, babies receive the breastmilk they need to survive in a safely tested way. Some unofficial donor communities exist in Israel, meaning that women understand the need; though at the moment, there is no way to ensure the milk is healthy and disease free for the baby.
Soon, there will be an official, supervised landing for those in need of breastmilk. Magen David Adom, which is the Israeli Red Cross, and the Ministry of Health are working together, each budgeting NIS 1 million shekels to establish a breastmilk bank in 2018. While not all details of the breastmilk bank have been flushed out, Israel is finally joining the list of countries who will be able to guarantee breastmilk for babies in need. This has a positive impact not only on the babies, but on mothers, who understand better the value of their milk – and can now choose to volunteer safely to give to those in need.