UW CSE and PATH (Seattle’s international non-profit focused on global health) will share a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations initiative to expand access to donated breast milk by simplifying human milk banking. The two-year, follow-on grant recognizes successful projects with additional funding, allowing UW CSE and PATH to build on work already under way.
The award will help UW CSE and PATH scale up a novel milk pasteurization monitor as part of a low-cost quality-control system to support the integration of human milk banking with a comprehensive breastfeeding awareness initiative to improve neonatal health. Donated breast milk safely pasteurized and stored at human milk banks can provide lifesaving nutrition for infants whose mothers’ milk is unavailable, especially for infants who are premature or otherwise vulnerable. Working with the Human Milk Bank Association of South Africa, UW CSE and PATH piloted an easy-to-use, mobile phone-based system called FoneAstra that gives users simple audio and visual instructions for safe pasteurization.