When did formula become so expensive – advice needed please

I’m sure many of you saw the frenzy and heated debates on social media this week regarding expensive formula.  If you didn’t, read about it here.  The summary is basically that formula theft is on the rise and that a grocery store was locking away their formula due to the high level of theft in South Africa.

This topic is something that just gets my blood BOILING and we can thank our government (and huge rich companies that make loads of profit on formula) for this, as there are strict government regulations regarding formula.  I get that the WHO has suggested countries put these regulations in place, but I find our government regulations a TAD (read the sarcasm) extreme.   Surely we can’t have the same regulations as many other first world countries? We have one of the highest unemployment rates (8th in the WORLD at 25%) and one of the highest abandonment rates of babies in the WORLD.

I get why the WHO wants to promote breastfeeding (or I sort of get it, as formula fed babies still make it to adulthood), but have they considered:

  • the mum who has to go back to work after a month of maternity leave
  • the mum who has mastitis due to a trauma in her life and milk isn’t coming out of her breasts, but blood is
  • the mum who has had a premature baby and cannot breastfeed
  • the mum who has a 2kg baby vomiting and having blood in his/her stool as he/she is allergic to his/her mum’s milk
  • the baby who was abandoned and in a children’s home, who cannot be breastfed
  • the mum who has 1, 2, 3 or more other children and just cannot exclusively breastfeed as she doesn’t have enough hands
  • the mum who cannot afford a breast pump and store it in the fridge – she may not even have a fridge in her home for crying out loud
  • the baby that is in NICU and needs a specialized formula as he/she is very sick

I’ve worked with numerous children’s homes in Gauteng for years and one of the most commonly requested things on the wish list is “formula and nappies”, as these are just too expensive for most of these homes to afford.

Does anyone see the problem here.  We are making our formula too expensive for the lower income earners and it’s leading to them stealing, otherwise their BABY WILL DIE.  Can anyone with half a brain see this is a HUGE CRISIS? I’m so torn between fighting this and just letting it go and taking the easy route.  My heart has been thinking about this for YEARS, but surely if mums can stand together we can make this more affordable for those in desperate need in this country.  Or should I just be like Elsa and “let it go”……….

More about Gauteng’s abandonment rates here.