Nutrition, a priority at the border

Boys and girls under 5 years old on the move are receiving nutrition supplementation to prevent undernutrition in countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

By Enrique Patiño
© UNICEF Ecuador/2019/Arcos
UNICEF Ecuador/2019/Arcos
22 August 2019

As soon as 1-year old Aleuzenev arrives at the CEBAF -the main border crossing with Ecuador, located in Tumbes, Peru- her mother Joselin takes her to the UNICEF-supported Health and Nutrition tent, where staff specialized in children under 5 check her conditions. After the evaluation, Joselin breathes in peace: health staff tell her that the baby’s weight and height are appropriate for her age. Thousands of children under 5 years old currently migrating across the borders of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are being screened and receiving critical supplementation to prevent undernutrition.

In countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, UNICEF is prioritizing in its programmes the emerging nutritional needs of boys and girls from 0 to 5 years like Aleuzenev.

In fact, in Peru, through implementing partner PRISMA, UNICEF supports active screening of children under 5 years at the CEBAF, as well as provision of infant and young child feeding counselling to promote the consumption of protein, vitamin and mineral–rich foods. In May, UNICEF assessed the nutritional status of 1,394 children. In the same month, ready-to-use supplementary food to prevent undernutrition reached 1,096 children under 5. In Peru, UNICEF also referred 41 children diagnosed with moderate acute malnutrition to health services within the CEBAF.

© UNICEF Perú/2019
UNICEF Perú/2019
Aleuzenev, a 1-year old from Venezuela, received critical nutrition supplementation from UNICEF to prevent undernutrition after she arrived at the CEBAF - the main border crossing with Ecuador, in Tumbes, Peru.

Ecuador, meanwhile, is working in coordination with the local Ministry of Health to provide an adequate response to migrant children. In May, through implementing partner ADRA, UNICEF conducted nutritional assessment of 1,046 children under 5 years of age (529 girls and 517 boys) in the northern border crossings of Rumichaca and San Miguel. At least 12 children were identified with moderate acute malnutrition and referred to receive specialized treatment. UNICEF delivered 1,056 nutritional supplements to prevent the deterioration of their nutritional status. Through haemoglobin evaluations conducted among 999 children, 183 of them were found to be anaemic and referred to specialized services.

Through UNICEF-supported assessments in Brazil, between Boa Vista and Pacaraima, at least 1,271 children under five, including 193 indigenous children living in shelters, were found at risk of stunting. With the State Secretariat of Health, UNICEF conducted a campaign aimed at providing micronutrients to all children under five years of age in the shelters. The programme had two cycles of supplementation of 60 days per cycle, with a minimum interval of three months between stages. In May, 138 children aged 6 to 59 months in five shelters received the first cycle of supplementation. With the contribution of the State Secretariat of Health, the second cycle started in June.

© UNICEF LACRO/2019/Patiño
UNICEF LACRO/2019/Patiño
Julio (3), a migrant child, eats his first complete meal after having been on the move for a whole week. His undernutrition was almost critical.

Thanks to the continuous support of donors such as the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM); Canada and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), UNICEF has been able to provide nutrition supplementation to prevent undernutrition to over 4,100 children under 5 in Peru, nearly 4,800 children in Ecuador, and 744 children in Brazil.


All figures extracted from: