South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR)

The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) is an award-winning, not-for-profit human milk
banking organization. Since our launch in 2003, we have supported the healthcare system and the
community of breastfeeding mothers in South Africa through programs involving scientific
research, advocacy, and awareness. We actively participate in government regulatory programs
and the provision of safe, nutritious donated breastmilk (DBM). Recently, this has also included the
provision of food parcels for lactating women, families with children under five years old, and
families with children suffering from a disability.

We care for some of the most vulnerable people at the beginning of their life cycle, by ensuring that
premature babies receive the benefits of breastmilk when mother’s own milk (MOM) is not
available. Many of these babies suffer severe acute complications of prematurity, such as
necrotizing enterocolitis. However, it is the long-term damage and chronic complications of
premature birth that cause morbidity and disability in survivors. Additionally, prematurity can lead to
learning disabilities, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cerebral palsy, and retinopathy of prematurity,
among others.

Breastmilk is the perfect food for premature babies: it aids in preventing necrotising enterocolitis
and strengthens the immune system, while also improving bonding and providing benefits for
maternal health. Because premature babies are at risk of developmental delays and poor school
performance, the cognitive benefits of breastmilk are especially important, due to its lasting
cognitive and developmental benefits. It is because of this life-saving work of the SABR that the
Executive Director, Stasha Jordan, has a special affinity for children with disabilities and a passion
for the nutrition of children under five years old.

Both prematurity and malnutrition have devastating effects on the cognitive and physical
development of children in their formative years. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,
South Africa found itself in a precarious situation with regard to food and nutrition, especially for
young children. South Africa’s child stunting levels – an indication of chronic and long-term food
insecurity – increased from 21% in 2008 to 27% in 2016. Now, with the devastation of COVID-19
and the subsequent lockdown in South Africa, child malnutrition rates are expected to increase.