Guatemala News June 2012
UNICEF Guatemala expanding partnerships to strengthen commitment to child survival and scale up nutrition.
Guatemala, June 20, 2012. The Ministry of Health, together with the United Nations Development Program, the TIGO Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, officially launched the "Mobile System for Monitoring Acute Malnutrition in the Community", aimed at saving the lives of thousands of children with serious nutritional problems in the context of national efforts to achieve "Zero Hunger", the " Scaling Up Nutrition" global movement and international commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The system relies on text messaging to monitor the nutritional status of children according to health protocols, connecting families, health workers and authorities in real time, thus allowing them to respond in a timely manner to cases of acute malnutrition.
"We have a strong commitment to child health and nutrition. This system allows us to instantly know the nutritional status of every child, even in the most isolated parts of the country, triggering a series of immediate actions and interventions to save and enhance their lives", said Acisclo Valladares of Tigo Foundation.
The Mobile System for Monitoring Acute Malnutrition in the Community was initially implemented in four departments with high rates of malnutrition, covering 864 rural communities inhabited by 58,009 children under five.
"We are all connected and work together to save every child who has a problem, even if he or she lives on the highest mountain or in the most distant village in the country," said Mauricio Ramírez, Country Director of UNDP.
According to the Ministry of Health, the initial success of this initiative has led national authorities to expand its coverage throughout the country to cover the 22 departments in the framework of the Zero Hunger Plan and to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
In Guatemala, 38 children die every day before reaching age five, most of them from preventable causes such as malnutrition, so this new system will help save lives and allow these children to develop their full potential.
"Today, innovation, new technologies and partnerships come together to promote a new child survival revolution," said Ivan Yerovi H., UNICEF Deputy Representative.
The situation of children and chronic malnutrition
High rates of chronic malnutrition in Guatemala (49.8%) place the country in the first place in Latin America and the Caribbean and the sixth worldwide.
Chronic malnutrition makes the country lose about U.S. $ 8 million a day on account of productivity.
Guatemala spends only $ 0.50 per child, per day, to meet all their rights, in circumstances that would have to spend at least four times.
In rural and indigenous areas, rates of chronic malnutrition in children under five years rising above 80%.
Although Guatemala is a middle income country, it has chronic malnutrition rates comparable to low-income countries (including Ethiopia) or countries at war (including Afghanistan).
The situation of children in respect of acute malnutrition
Nationally, the percentage of malnutrition reaches 1.4%. In some regions this figure rises to 2.8% (Izabal) and 2.9% (San Marcos).
According to the latest data available for 2008 and 2009, according to WHO, the rate of acute malnutrition was higher among girls and boys between 12 and 23 months (2.8%).
Less than 6 months 0.5%
From 6 to 11 months 0.9%
12 to 23 months 2.8%
24 to 35 months 1.5%
36 to 47 months 0.9%
48 to 59 months 0.8%
The acute malnutrition rate is higher in rural (1.6%) than in urban (1.0%) areas.
As for ethnicity, acute malnutrition is higher among the “Ladino” (1.5%) than among the indigenous population (1.3%).
Regarding education, the acute malnutrition rate is higher among people with no education (1.6%), declining to 0.6% among those with higher education.
Mobile System to monitor acute malnutrition
The purpose of this system is to find, alert and respond in a timely manner to cases of acute malnutrition using mobile phones from the most distant communities to health services.
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