Late 2019, the country has suffered an economic crisis after decades of economic mismanagement, corruption and a scarcity in foreign currencies that has limited imports.
The Bank of Lebanon provides hard currency for the import which constitutes about 90 percent of its needs, including foodstuffs. In the light of the scarcity of hard currency in the Central Bank’s reserves, the items in the subsidized list have been reduced over the past weeks. Essential items such as fuel, flour, medicines, medical supplies and infant milk are on their way to be uncovered gradually. Activists reported that the price of baby milk had risen to more than 300,000 Lebanese pounds ($ 14 at the black market exchange rate equivalent to 300,000 L.L), equivalent to half the minimum wage.
Down the road there is a wider economic crisis that is impacting the food security, hoarding by retailers, who hope to raise prices later, and parents buying in bulk has intensified the baby formula shortage.
The shortage in baby formula is the latest addition to the daily crises that shake the country. Only this one is risking the health and safety of newborns and infants, leaving mothers and fathers feeling helpless and enraged.
The political crises in Lebanon continue to reflect the difficult living situation, which is worsening day by day. Basic food items have been lost, most recently, children’s milk has been lost from the market and medical supplies and medicines have been severely inadequate, threatening the lives of Lebanese and their children. On the verge of economic collapse, Lebanese citizens are preoccupied with what is their priority: their children are not starving.
Many media reported the suffering of parents on the subject. “I live in daily panic, reaching out to friends from all regions of Lebanon, from the South to the North and the Bekaa, to recommend that they search their way according to their knowledge of pharmacies where milk is available.
Basically the problem with the import mechanism, the price rise and the financial meltdown, many imported companies stopped importing; some of them closed completely in Lebanon and no longer delivered to markets.
The real risk, according to doctors, is that in cases of children with milk allergies, the interruption or replacement of milk poses health risks to children, as their consumption of other milk different from Formula needed can lead to developmental problems, shortness of breath, digestive problems, blood release and other complications that may result from allergies. These cases are interrupted months ago and have recently become more acute.
The Lebanese people were already plagued by many sinful increases in the prices of essential commodities, and now the shortage of infant formula has become a new problem when a deepening economic crisis and instability coincide with a devastating pandemic and a major disaster, the consequences for children and families can be catastrophic, In addition, the impact of removing price subsidies on the country’s most vulnerable households will be tremendous. This is an unprecedented situation, and it demands a similarly unprecedented response to ensure the wellbeing and continued access to essential services for children and the most vulnerable.
The continuation of this tragedy is truly a crime against children and can’t be ignored. Most efforts should be made in order to put endless to this suffering.