Philippine Government and Citizens Agree: Breast is Best

Breast milk exchanges are taking off in parts of the Philippines thanks to government-sponsored incentives for both donors and recipients.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

Breast milk "banks," while not new in the West, are gaining in popularity in parts of the Philippines thanks to financial incentives for donors and government subsidies for recipients. The United Nations humanitarian news service IRIN reports that at one hospital in Manila, pregnant women who are unable to pay for delivery costs can have some of those expenses offset by donating breast milk to the hospital's bank. That milk is then made available at affordable rates to mothers who are unable to breastfeed due to physical or time restrictions, as well as to families who need milk due to the mother's death or incapacitation.

What's the Big Idea?

It's common knowledge in most parts of the world that breastfeeding is ideal for infant development, increasing immunity to childhood diseases as well as reducing the likelihood of newborn death. The government's involvement in promoting this through state-run milk banks benefits Philippine society as a whole: A recent study showed that exclusive breastfeeding increased by 11 percentage points over 3 years, and that breastfeeding a baby within an hour of its birth increased by 20 percentage points over the same period.

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