Pricey infant formula forces substitute feeding

Posted by SM Maulana
Tuesday, 17 June 2008

BUTTERWORTH: Some poor parents are substituting pricey infant formula with diluted condensed milk, rock sugar water, black coffee and plain tea, to feed their infants and toddlers.

Malaysia Hindu Sangam (Penang) Social and Welfare Committee chairman P. Murugiah said parents with low income of under RM1,500 and with an average of three children, have reduced feeding infant formula from five times a day to only twice a day.

“They substitute the remaining feeding periods with other drinks,” he said.

He claimed that poor mothers could not produce breast milk as they were undernourished.

“The price of infant formula has gone up by about 80% in the last two years, with one brand rising from RM9 to RM16.50 per 650gm,” Murugiah said.

He said the sangam and a few other non-governmental organisations have been giving milk powder aid to at least 30 families since last year.

“We believe there are more families who need such aid,” he said.

Murugiah urged the Government to help set up a scheme to make infant milk more affordable to such families.

He said the plight of these families would worsen if the Government removed essential grocery items from its price control list.

“Basic items, such as rice, sugar and flour should be made affordable especially to this group of people.

“The Government should introduce a ration card system, such as is practised in India, to allow the lower income group to buy essential food items at reduced prices,” he said.

– The Star

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