Why use PiAstra

What is PiAstra? PiAstra is a system used for monitoring pasteurization of flash heated Human Milk. Why use PiAstra? Human Milk has proven to be the source of optimal nutrition for all infants. For low birthweight infants especially, it is personalized medication as these infants are at great risk of developing necrotising enterocolitis, a very serious condition of the gut, if they don't get breastmilk. There are occasions when some mothers may struggle to provide enough milk in the first few days after delivery. It is vital that these infants are given donated human milk, which contains many immune components which strengthen the immune system; aid gut maturation and protect from infections. BUT international guidelines recommend that all donated human milk must be pasteurized before it is fed to infants. ENTER PiAstra: A portable / safe / reliable way of pasteurizing breastmilk at minimum cost to make access to donor human milk (DHM) possible. What makes PiAstra so special compared with other DHM pasteurizers • Environmentally friendly • Uses minimal electricity and a gas cooker can be used for emergencies • Uses minimal amount of water and water can be re-used • Portable • Modular, easy to repair only the module that is defective • Affordable • Small volumes making it ideal as an entry point pasteurizer for new HMB start-ups. TESTIMONIAL: "I have used the PiAstra system in New Zealand for some years now. What a blessing it has been! In the beginning it was our sole pasteuriser and we managed to supply the needs of 30 to 50 babies a month in our local neonatal and postnatal wards. Later on we bought a bigger pasteuriser from another supplier, but still continue to use the PiAstra at the same time when we have less than the volume needed to run a second batch in the bigger machine. It's quick and easy to set up and each process is over in 20 minutes. If I worked in a smaller unit with fewer vulnerable babies, I could see the PiAstra being more than adequate to process the needed supplies. Jacquie Nutt IBCLC New Zealand."


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Introduction to PiAstra


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Specifications of PiAstra

How PiAstra works

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Step by step instructions

Our Team

Professor Anna Coutsoudis, academic and researcher in the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) won the GLaxoSmithKline/Save the Children’s Health Innovation Award for her ground-breaking work in Human Milk Banking in South Africa and for developing a low-cost, effective pasteurisation system for breastmilk. Up until now the prohibitive cost of commercial pasteurisers made roll -out of human milk banks to small rural hospitals and community organizations almost impossible. The Health Innovation Award enabled a significant scale up of milk banks working together with a non-profit organisation, iThemba Lethu Breastmilk Bank. Ithemba Lethu was the first community-based human milk bank in South Africa and was started by Prof Coutsoudis in 2001. Shortly after winning the award the team realised that the original FoneAstra pasteurization system developed by their collaborators (University of Washington, Seattle and PATH) was no longer practical for work in rural areas. Prof Coutsoudis called upon UKZN alumni, Philip Barlow and Noel Powell, to brainstorm and come up with some alternatives. The system was based on the initial FoneAstra system developed by PATH and the University of Washington (Seattle), Computer Science and Engineering Department and HMBASA and we gratefully acknowledge these contributions. Philip Barlow suggested using Raspberry Pi – off-the-shelf readily available technology with an easy- to- use touch screen. The resulting innovation is now called PiAstra and the cost is almost half the cost of the original FoneAstra and a fraction of the price of a commercial pasteuriser. The ‘funky’ concept, design and manufacture was made possible by using local expertise and industries who took on the challenge and delivered in record time. The fourth member of the team is Penny Reimers, a professional midwife and international board certified lactation consultant who provides support to the Human Milk Banks using PiAstra in terms of promoting breastfeeding.

Professor at UKZN

Project Engineer

Project Manager