International Cooperation

Ensure neonatal nutritional safety and contribute to the reduction of childhood morbidity and mortality and, in the long term, the occurrence of chronic noncommunicable diseases. Thus, the Global Network of Human Milk Banks (rBLH) integrates more than 20 countries and constitutes an international public policy for the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding. As an effective and low cost tool to achieve these goals, the initiative has been implemented in countries in the Americas, Europe and Africa.

This story goes back to the 1980s, when human milk banks started to constitute a Public Health Policy in Brazil - country that leads the international movement for breastfeeding and human milk donation, through the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation (ABC) and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz). Since then, positive results for improving care for pregnant women and newborns hospitalized in neonatal units - and the reduction of infant mortality in the country - have drawn the attention of the international community to the nutritional strategy practiced by Brazil.

The global interest in the topic was strengthened in 2001, when the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized the Brazilian Network of Human Milk Banks (rBLH-BR) as the main contributor to reducing child mortality worldwide in the 1990. The recognition came with the responsibility to replicate the Brazilian model in other countries, starting the first partnerships in the area.

Together, ABC and Fiocruz provide technical and financial support for the installation, qualification and maintenance of human milk banks throughout the world through bilateral or multilateral agreements, involving the exchange of experiences, knowledge and technologies and capacity building Respecting different socio-economic and cultural contexts. This dynamic results in the materialization of legal frameworks and public policies that complement the technical-scientific dimension of the initiative - essential dynamics for the expansion with consolidation of rBLH.

The rBLH seeks alignment with international health macro policies. In this way, the initiative contributed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and, in 2015, defined guidelines in line with the Sustainable Development Objectives for the next 15 years.