The health department met with representatives of Nestl in
the capital, Pretoria, this week to discuss shortages of the infant formula, Nan
Pelargon, provided by the state to the babies of HIV-positive mothers. The
company holds a government tender for providing infant formula to 2,525 sites
countrywide for the national prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT)
Formula feeding reduces the risk of transmission via breast milk by one-third,
and women enrolling in the programme are advised to bottle-feed. But the
shortfall in supplying the formula could jeopardize the PMTCT campaign. We
are unable to quantify the extent of the problem. There have been isolated
reports, with hospitals reporting [shortages] to provincial authorities ...
these have been coming mainly from Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Free state
[provinces], health department spokesman Sibani Mngadi told PlusNews.
According to Nestl, the shortages were partly due to a 20 percent increase in
demand for the formula in 2004, which had been exacerbated by a strike at
The department of health is expecting a comprehensive report from
Nestl in two weeks' time on steps taken to resolve the problem. We need
them to deliver - they signed a contract and they need to explain themselves on
how much they've varied from the conditions, Mngadi remarked.
In a statement the company said, In order to address the shortage, we have
reopened our Bethal factory and have commissioned our Brazilian market to assist
us to meet our backlog and current needs. The supply will improve over the
coming weeks and should gradually normalize as of October. The government has advised affected provinces to redirect stock from facilities
with adequate supplies to clinics and hospitals experiencing shortages.
(Source: IrinNews, 19 August 2005, 2005)