|© UNICEF Peru/2011/Francis|
|Four-year-old Julissa was diagnosed with anaemia through the nutrition surveillance programme in Rosaspata, Peru. After treatement, she is now healthy.|
By Rafahela García Lapouble
LIMA, Peru, 9 January 2012 – In the Andean community of Rosaspata, in Vinchos District, a community health promoter has invited children, their parents and a health centre representative to the local community hall for the area’s biweekly nutrition surveillance programme.
Villagers here are eager to talk about the UNICEF-supported programme, which has helped reduce cases of malnutrition and anaemia among Rosaspata’s youngest children.
Keeping malnutrition at bay
There are 60 children under 3 years old in the seven neighbourhoods that make up Rosaspata, said the health promoter as he displayed a table listing every child’s name, date of birth, weight, height, medical check-up dates and haemoglobin levels, which helps detect anaemia. For children diagnosed with malnutrition, the table also shows intake stages of ‘nutritional sprinkles’ – a powdered supplement containing essential micronutrients.
These meticulous records and the programme’s supply of nutritional supplements have helped Rosaspata give its youngest residents a healthy start in life.
“We are committed to working for our children under three so they may be healthy and well. That is how our community will progress,” said Ramiro Llamocca Rodríguez, the mayor of Rosaspata. “The sprinkles have helped to improve the diet of the children and fight anaemia. We thank UNICEF for its support.”
‘She doesn’t get sick anymore’
The programme also offers an ‘early stimulation’ class where children can learn and play with their peers and parents. One-year-old Nelbia Pariona attends the session, playing, singing and giggling with her mother, Ruth Quispe.
They live in the neighbourhood of Patacancha and travel for two hours by foot every two weeks to attend the programme.
Like many of the children of Rosaspata, Nelbia suffered from anaemia when she was 6 months old. She was treated with nutritional sprinkles until she was 11 months old, and her haemoglobin levels have improved, but not enough. She will start a second stage of treatment six months from now.
“She is quite alert now, with more energy, her appetite has increased, she doesn’t get sick anymore, and she is healthier,” said Ms. Quispe.
At the other end on the community hall, 2.5-year-old Marisol Riveros jumps up and down. She lives in the neighbourhood of Tandama, thirty minutes away. In February 2010, she began treatment after being diagnosed as very anaemic.
“Her weight and height were below average, but now both have increased,” said Marisol’s mother, Dina Llamocca. “She is very alert and active. She needs to continue with the treatment so she may further improve.”
Nearby is 4-year-old Julissa, who has been attending these sessions with her mother, Milka Mitacc, for two years. Julissa was also diagnosed with anaemia, but she has since completed treatment and is now healthy.
Her parents plan to keep it this way.
“We want Julissa to grow up well. We have given her sprinkles and now she is healthy,” said her father, Amador Barrios. “We include meat or eggs in her food, we wash her hands before eating and, above all, we spend a lot of time playing and singing with her.”
Like many fathers in the area, Mr. Barrios plays an active role in his daughter’s care, and is committed to doing what is best for her health and her future.
“We laugh a lot,” he said, “and we give her much love.”