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Human Milk Bank’s one and a half crore machine is gathering dust

At Matuail Child and Maternal Health Institute of the capital, the pasteurizing machine, state-of-the-art fridge, bought for the ‘Human Milk Bank’ worth about one and a half crores, has collected dust.

The machines bought with the money given by three Muslim donors (unnamed) were kept in a locked room. Because of the milk bank, there may be complications in the marriage with the children of the mothers in the future, if it is possible to solve it, if the opinion of the Islamic Foundation is not received, this milk bank cannot be started.

On the other hand, the Islamic Foundation is not yet able to give any opinion due to complications related to Dudma. Concerned persons say that the attitude is ‘positive’ even though the Ministry of Health has not given official permission for such banking, taking care not to violate Islamic Sharia in collecting mother’s breast milk and feeding other newborns.

Human Milk Bank’s initiative to save mother’s breast milk is an initiative of Institute of Child-Maternal Health (ICMH) Neonatal Care Center (SCANO) and Neonatal ICU (NICU) of Matuail, Dhaka District. The bank was set up with private financial support. The bank’s manpower was trained before the bank’s launch in December 2019. Initiatives were taken to start all the machinery. But now everything is on hold.
After this initiative, the private international development organization Family Health International (FHI 360) applied for the permission of the Department of Health in August last year to set up a human milk bank in four hospitals of the capital. The project concerned to obtain permission has expired. As a result, that initiative never saw the light of day. Advocate notices were also sent claiming that having a milk bank in the country would create ‘legal and religious problems’.

Mother’s breast milk will be sold through a few banks in some Madrasas around ICMH, the breast milk of multiple mothers will be mixed in the same container. This will make it difficult to identify Dudhma, bringing such things to the fore. Then some organizations and individuals started the bank closure movement. ICMH has sent a letter seeking the opinion of the Islamic Foundation for its re-opening based on its formal opinion. However, due to the widespread spread of Corona, the issue was dropped from the priority list. Even after the corona was brought under control, the matter was not discussed in that way.

As the Director General of the Islamic Foundation. Md. Mushfiqur Rahman joined on 17 February 2021. When asked about the Human Milk Bank, he said that he did not hear any discussion about it after assuming the post. As the matter is sensitive, it should be resolved through proper discussion.

Among Muslim countries, banks have been set up to store breast milk in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Kuwait. Malaysia has put this in the plan. Banks for Muslims have been established in Singapore under special regulations. ICMH executive director MA Mannan told Prothom Alo, ‘I had a dream about a milk bank. However, those who will work with the bank and those who will receive the services, are actually not ready yet. It is necessary to form public opinion so that there is no conflict with the religion of Islam, so that there is no controversy. Due to these complications, I am not able to operate the milk bank machines.