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Slash import duty on diets for kids with metabolic error: MERD

IANS  |  New Delhi 

The Metabolic Errors and (MERD) organisation of has urged the to slash or waive import duties levied on life-saving diets required for children with such problems in the country.

The demand by the parents' association comes as many families of children with metabolic error find it difficult to afford such diets which now attract 30-40 per cent import duties.

Currently, reports nearly 50,000 newborns with Inborn Errors of Metabolism (IEM) in which the body cannot properly turn into On an average, a parent of an affected child has to spend Rs 2.5 lakh yearly on their treatment, including buying for Special Medical Purposes (FMSP) diets.

According to the association, companies like Danone, Nestle, and Abbott are importing FSMP diets at high duties and further levy GST on them. In many developing countries, these diets attract 5 to 10 per cent duty only.

According to MERD India, such speciality foods were not readily available in until 2017 and the family of the kids suffering from IEMs used to struggle with paperwork for permission to import these.

Various authorities, including J.P. Nadda, have been approached seeking reduction in the import duty for the special diets but to no avail, it said.

"Through this support group (MERD), we have been campaigning about the IEM and special diets required for the survival of children with the problem," Vikas Bhatia from MERD India told IANS.

"Screening is very much required so that the problem can be diagnosed for many of the newborns which helps give them a normal life. There is a need to reduce or exempt the import duty on such special diets as this will help for the survival of the children."

The MERD also wrote to the of Health Services (DGHS) seeking exemption from import duties, noting that "in view of the importance and urgency of the problem worldwide, there are cases where these diets are being reimbursed by the governments of the respective countries".

"In view of the importance of these diets for our future generation, we would request you to exempt the import duties levied on these life-saving diets in view of non-existence of these products in the country," reads the letter addressed to Special DGHS B.D. Athani.

Earlier, the Safety and in collaboration with various bodies including Infant and (IYNCI) had launched Diet4Life -- an initiative that allowed import of "special diets" for patients suffering from IEM. However, the main concern of duties still prevails.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 16:24 IST
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