Parents have expressed concern over the shortage of Lactogen 2 infant formula after Nestle Zimbabwe stopped importing the feed which it last produced locally in 2004. Although Lactogen 1 that can be used as a substitute to Lactogen 2 is still available in some shops, many parents have turned to Nan infant formula and other brands.
Some of the parents said their children were reacting negatively to the other infant formulas since they had become used to Lactogen 2.
"Nestle told us that they stopped importing Lactogen 2 and advised that we consult health workers for advice concerning infant feeding," said Ms Susan Jokomo. Mr Samson Togara said his seven-month child had a running stomach after switching to other brands when they failed to secure Lactogen 2.
Nestle Zimbabwe corporate communications officer Mr Farai Munetsi attributed the Lactogen 2 shortage to diminished imports of the product. "Since 2004, Nestle Zimbabwe has been importing infant formula. You will recall that the country ran into raw milk supply problems then," said Mr Munetsi.
He said Nestle had centralised the production of infant formulas in a few factories worldwide.
"We would like to assure the public that Nestle will always endeavour to ensure stock is received and distributed throughout Zimbabwe in the shortest possible time," said Mr Munetsi.
Nestle Zimbabwe launched a dairy empowerment scheme in 2011 where the company would import 4 000 dairy cows over the next seven years to support commercial and small-scale dairy sectors.
The investment is set to increase the company's milk intake from 3,5 million litres per year to 28 million litres. Mr Munetsi said mothers and caregivers should consult health care workers for professional advice on infant and child feeding.
In 2003, WHO and the United Nations Children's Fund published the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Children Feeding. They said that processed food products for infants should meet applicable standards recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. They warned that lack of breast feeding, especially exclusively during the first half year of life, was an important risk factor for infant or childhood morbidity and mortality.