CAIRO: Egypt will import only 18 million cartons of artificial baby milk at a cost of $50 million, three million cartons less than last year, a source at the Health Ministry told Youm7 Tuesday.
Last year, the ministry imported 21 million cartons based on a health committee’s report that 12 percent of newborns need artificial milk every year. However, another committee this year advised that the percentage is only 10 percent.
Egypt subsidizes artificial baby milk, especially Biomil, Nactalia and Liptomilk, with about 353 million EGP ($40 million), Adel Abdel Maksoud, head of the Pharmacy Owners Division of Cairo’s Commercial Chamber, told Masr al-Arabia news website last February.
A carton of milk for babies under the age of six months costs 3 EGP ($0.34) at any of the 611 official Health Ministry centers, while a carton for babies over the age of six months costs 17-18 EGP in pharmacies. In an effort to keep pharmacies from raising the price of baby milk, the government will give every pharmacy a number of cartons to sell at a subsidized price: 12 cartons for babies under the age of six months and 6 cartons for babies over the age of 6 months, according to Abdel Maksoud.
Other baby milk imported by the private sector can cost up to 150 EGP per carton.
Egypt is trying to reduce imports due to a dollar crisis. In February customs tariffs on “luxury products” were increased by 10-30 percent.