Chan Rampersad (3rd from left) collects a baby care package from Chaguanas Mayor Vandana Mohit (far right) on Saturday, when packages were donated to over 50 families. Also in the photo are Dr Rai Ragbir (left), Councillor Whitney Stevenson-Hamlet and Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim. The event took place at Stevenson-Hamlet's offices at the Southern Main Road, Enterprise. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

One medical practitioner is concerned that a growing number of infants are malnourished because their parents cannot afford milk and the necessary nutritional requirements.

And Dr Rai Ragbir warns that matters may be worse than originally thought, because of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis on so many lower-income families.

The medical practitioner was speaking with Guardian Media on Saturday when he donated milk and other nutritional supplies to around 50 parents. The event took place at the offices of Whitney Stevenson-Hamlet, the local government representative for the area on the Chaguanas Borough Corporation. 

Dr Ragbir noted that the COVID-19 virus had led to job losses and a shortage of financial resources for many families. He says he plans to double his efforts to assist, next month. 

“Money is tight,” he said. “Some of you all may be getting a food card and it can’t stretch to buy baby milk. While breast milk is the best, in some cases it is not possible and baby formulae is necessary.”

He added: “This country should never go back to the time when infants were given sugar water, bush water and flour pap.”

Member of Parliament for Chaguanas East, Fazal Karim, said proper nutrition is important in a child’s formative years, noting that it is critical to ensure proper cognitive development from age 3 years, onwards.  He said in April 2015, the People’s Partnership Government had launched the childcare grant of $500 for needy families.  He lamented that when they entered office, the current PNM Government choose to cut the grant. 

Meanwhile, Mayor of Chaguanas, Vandana Mohit, made an appeal to the business community to assist needy families, stating that distribution could be done through her offices.

Mayor Mohit said since the COVID-19 crisis, many single mothers, and underprivileged families, “were feeling the squeeze”. She reported that the borough was distributing items as quickly as they received supplies.