Infant formula scarcity to be solved ‘soon': Health Ministry official
Egyptian health minister Ahmed Emad Eldin - YOUM7

CAIRO: Egypt’s months-long problem of a shortage of infant formula is expected to be solved soon after a tender was proposed to import it, according to a Health Ministry official in Monday statements to MBC Masr TV Channel.

Sayed el-Shahed, head of the Finance and Management department at the ministry, said that a previous deal of importing formula was cancelled due to doubts it did not match standards.

He noted that on Wednesday the ministry is expected to choose the best offers submitted by companies to import formula, after a review by a committee to ensure quality.

Shahed said that the formula will be available “60 days after the end of the tender.”

The current strategic store of the meal supplement is sufficient for between four-five months.

The shortage has reportedly led to a black market for formula, where the price of a tin reached 100 EGP ($11.18.)

A fully-subsidized tin costs 3 EGP and is available at motherhood and childhood centers, Shahed said.

A half-subsidized tin costs 17 EGP, while the tin is sold at 55-60 EGP at the privately-owned markets and pharmacies.

Some 12 percent of Egyptian newborns need to have their diets supplemented through formula annually, head of Regional sector at the ministry Hala Masekh told Youm7. She added that by mid-2016, more than 350,000 children will be receiving the milk through smart cards; each child will receive 64 tins per year.

Hundreds of medicines are reportedly unavailable at pharmacies due to U.S. dollar shortage in Egypt.

Last week, Secretary-General of the Pharmacist Syndicate branch in the Alexandria Youssef Bedeir told Youm7 that a total of 450 medicines are missing at pharmacies in the Mediterranean city, adding that alternatives to around 300 out of them are available.

The Ministry announced Feb. 29 raising the price of 54 medicines.

An increase in prices of drugs was urged by the sector to cope with the increasing value of the dollar against the Egyptian pound.

Meanwhile, the ministry has been proposing imported and locally-made drugs to cure Hepatitis C virus at reduced prices, after they had proved successful effect in treating a prevailing infection in Egypt.

Officials announced that during 2015, around 157,000 patients have been treated using the Egyptian-made Sovaldi, a Hep C treatment, which costs 520 EGP ($74) per bottle, given its price was reduced at least three times within few months.

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