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Breast milk banks struggling to survive in China

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-19 10:41


Unlike organizations abroad, which are largely philanthropic endeavors or charge for the donated milk, most Chinese breast milk banks are run by hospitals.

The cost of running a nonprofit breast milk bank is a huge outlay for public hospitals. Sometimes, they avoid encouraging eager mothers to donate at all, Zheng Fengying said.

In Taihe, a bottle of 150 ml bottle of breast milk costs the hospital needs 1,200 yuan (around 174 U.S. dollars) each. This price covers disposable breast pump, blood test, bacterial culture, pasteurization, storage and wages for staff.

According to Guo Jiazhong, president of Taihe, the private hospital has spent around 300,000 yuan on equipment and pays out an annual management fee of more than 300,000 yuan to keep the bank afloat.

"We will not close it, nor will we charge any fees," said Guo. "Breast milk banks must be nonprofit and continue to help these babies."

In 2008, only 27.6 percent of Chinese babies were breast-fed in their first six months. This had risen to 58.5 percent in 2013.

Away from these national figures, Liang Juan is more concerned about the abandoned baby Nannan.

"This poor baby is now getting the nutrients it needs from the donated breast milk. I just hope Nannan will recover soon," said Liang.

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