Peru commits to continue fighting Malnutrition
Lima, 22 February 2008 - With the participation of Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo, other Ministers of State and the presence of the First Lady of the Nation, Pilar Nores de García, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation presented the medical journal “The Lancet”, dedicated this time dealing with the theme of maternal-infant malnutrition
According to figures in the study, every day more than 3.5 million mothers and children under five around the world as a consequence of malnutrition, while another large percentage is left physically or mentally disabled by inadequate feeding during the first months of life.
Laura Caulfield, one of the authors of the mentioned report and researcher of the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, sustained in her intervention that the children that develop these conditions will suffer irreversible damages as adults if adequate nutrition is not achieved before the age of 24 months. She mentioned in this regard, that 90% of all children with growth retardation live in only 36 countries, one of which is Peru. “To reverse this situation it is necessary to promote maternal breastfeeding, supplementation with vitamin A and zinc, and adequate treatment when serious malnutrition is present. These interventions have been able to reduce up to 25% of infant mortality and the future load of malnutrition-related diseases”.
In turn, the President of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Arturo David Martínez, congratulated and recognized the government of Peru for its political commitment to the fight against malnutrition in its quest to reduce the prevalence of that problem in children under two. Premier del Castillo argued that Peru’s goal is to reduce malnutrition by 9 percentage points. He thanked the United Nations organizations and other international organizations cooperating with support and technical assistance and sharing successful experiences in that field implemented in prioritized zones of the country. He affirmed that while the results will not be immediate, “The aim is to work in depth so that the children of Peru can have a quality future. The results are not immediate. This is a struggle that we must win with a medium and long-range focus.”
On the other hand, Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development Susana Pinilla stressed that her portfolio has been making efforts to improve the nutrition of expectant and nursing mothers, as well as that of children under two. She reported that, through the National Programme of Food Assistance, 3,500,000 food rations are distributed daily to the poorest families in Peru’s 880 districts.
According to official figures, the regions most affected by malnutrition are Huancavelica, Cuzco, Apurímac, Cajamarca and Huánuco – with more than 40% of all affected children. In this respect, the Regional President of Apurímac, who was in attendance at the event, expressed thanks for UNICEF’s participation over several years in different communities in his region, with highly beneficial results, and called for the support of other organizations so that the malnutrition of children and mothers may continue to decline among his constituents.
Some of the recommendations made by this study published in “The Lancet” indicate a need for greater investment in strengthening the technical capacities, budgetary backing for key organizations and assistance that fits the demand and is flexible for institutional, sectoral or cross-sectoral reforms.