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Hands on! Because we believe in our work.

Sunday, 28th August 2011

At the eve of important changes in the health care of South Africa and riding on the enthusiasm of the Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Gwen Ramokgopa for breastfeeding and human milk banking we climbed into our car and set for Kwazulu Natal (KZN).

KZN represents a mile stone in human milk banking and the networking of infrastructures across South Africa. Phase 1 of the networking of the health districts of of area 2 of KZN is in its infancy, yet showing the promise of sustainability and growth. As we speak the language of work and productive hands-on efforts, on site, in the various hospital, here goes a short overview of our trip, our training, and extreme sport attitude.

We set out at 3am on Wednesday to reach Greys Hospital in Pitermaritzburg, The Pietermaritzburg hospital complex is our 'baby' and considerable stimulus is needed to overcome the physiological and teething stages of launching a new bank. We call on volunteers and champions to assist our new coordinator in spreading the news and igniting the community engine that will facilitate the collection of of donated breastmilk. The Hospital Complex received a top up of 150, 200ml bottles of breastmilk that assist the NICUs at Greys, Northdale, Edendale and New Castle.

Following a few short meeting we drove to Netcare Arbelito where we conducted training at the Netcare Stroks Nest regional meeting. Netcare Arbelito is a corner and supports the collection of milk that is used partially in the NICU and mostly redirected to the public sector. Not even the time to pee and we set of for RIchards Bay where we delivered a new pasteurizer to Netcare the Bay, who will be collecting milk for one of the largest public NICUs in the country. We drove back to Pietermaritzburg as we where schedule to board a Red Cross plain directed to New Castle the following morning

Thursday was exiting and fun filled, nothing quite like finding oneself caged with 7 Doctor, literally without frontiers braving short landing strips, of beaten ground and mole holes with a massive dose of self humor and happy banter. Newcastle Hospital is running a successful collection corner and the Red Cross plain assists the 'traveling' doctors in getting the milk to and from the main bank in Pietermaritzburg. This is a bi-weekly excursion that a few local specialist agree to in the name of circulating their life saving know-how in the district. It was great to be part of this well humored team. I had never flown on such a small place and was reminded why we are earth creatures. Lelanie our Operations Manager was busy with the interview process which should soon welcome the new PMB coordinator.

Friday morning saw another early start, with the familiarization of our coordinator-in-training with the Greys Human milk bank, visits to Netcare St. Anne, St Augustine and Parkland the latter situated in Durban and the temporary key twin facility for Stanger public hospital as well as The Pietermaritzburg hospital complex.

We returned to our families on Friday night satisfied with our work, and only to well aware of how much work still need to be done! Good times.