Pakistan’s First Human Milk Bank Initiative Halted Following New Fatwa

The Sindh Institute of Child Health & Neonatology (SICHN) has suspended Pakistan’s first Human Milk Bank project after a new fatwa (religious edict) was issued. The project, designed to provide breast milk to premature babies unable to receive adequate nutrition from their mothers, was put on hold on Friday.

In a statement, a SICHN spokesperson said they would seek further guidance from the Jamia Darul Uloom Karachi and the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).

The Shariah-compliant Human Milk Bank and Early Childhood Center at SICHN was inaugurated a few weeks ago by Sindh Health Minister Dr. Azra Pechuho, with officials from UNICEF and the Pakistan Pediatric Association (PPA) present.

The initiative aimed to address the nutritional needs of premature babies, specifically those born at 34 weeks or less gestation and weighing under 2 kg. According to the spokesperson, many mothers of such infants struggle to produce enough breast milk, necessitating the establishment of the milk bank.

The spokesperson emphasized that providing breast milk to these infants is crucial to avoid complications, infections, and early death. The project was set up to meet this critical need.

To address concerns, the spokesperson clarified that only Muslim women’s milk would be provided to Muslim children and that the service would be free to avoid any perception of commercial activity.

Initially, a fatwa issued in December 2023 by Darululoom Karachi had provided the necessary religious endorsement to proceed. However, a revised fatwa issued on June 16 led to the suspension of the project pending further religious guidance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *