The Lebanese Crisis Worsens With Baby Formula Shortage

Baby formula shortages expose the grim reality of the extent of Lebanon’s food and medicine insecurities. It seems that the Lebanese can’t catch a break. The recent paralyzing economic crisis in Lebanon left thousands penniless and struggling for a living. This status quo forces citizens to go to immeasurable lengths to access essential goods or services, and baby formula isn’t an exception. 

When an item essential for the health of infants and mothers disappears from shelves and becomes increasingly impossible to find, it becomes a bleak testament to the dangerously deteriorating living conditions in Lebanon.

How It Got This Far

The first signs of disaster began in February, as the issue was discussed in Parliament. Lebanon used to subsidize baby formula, but following bulk buying and market manipulation by sellers and importers, the government decided to uplift its subsidization. The decision was met with anger from parents who saw this as the continuation of a cycle of corruption that has robbed the Lebanese people of everything; why should struggling parents bear the brunt of illegal market practices and corruption?

Lebanon has been receiving humanitarian and food aid from the UN and many Arab countries. This includes Egypt, which sent a shipment earlier this year that included a supply of Baby Formula. The UN has declared Lebanon a hunger hotspot in March and the perilous situation seems to overstay its welcome.  

With the current degrading standard of living in the country, some offered a solution to the baby formula crisis through raising awareness regarding the importance of breastfeeding. Spearheaded by Inaya Ezzeddine, a member of the Amal Movement, efforts were made to shine a light on breastfeeding. Ezzeddine said that formula milk is rather a commercial tool with no added health benefits. With help from the UN, a hotline regarding the dietary needs of infants was created. Additionally, financial aid was provided to over 2,500 food-insecure families.

The focus on breastfeeding is the right move, but in this case, it is for the wrong reason. There is no telling how or when Lebanon will recover from this crisis, but access to basic sustenance is not something you can negotiate.

A box of baby formula costs about 85,000 Lebanese pounds (EGP 883), how are parents supposed to feed their children?

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