Arming Parents in the Battle Against Malnutrition | Bolivia

Chronic Malnutrition in Rural Bolivia

In Bolivia, 16% of children under the age of 5 struggle with chronic malnutrition, a condition that develops when they do not eat the correct balance of nutrients in the first 1,000 days of life. Both brain and body growth failure can occur, also called “stunted growth”, in more serious cases leading to cancers, arthritis, or organ failure.

It is therefore critically important that local healthcare providers observe weight, size, and overall development of children to detect problems as early as possible.

A Mother’s Intuition

Gladys Fabiola Jerez Colque, lives with her family on the outskirts of the Bolivian city of Tarija. She became concerned when her 4-year-old son, Camilo, began acting strange. Red flags for any mother: low appetite, lack of interest in playing, and tiredness. These signs individually seemed strange, but all together put her on high alert.

“Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and limited appointments at the health center, I stopped taking Camilo to his regular growth checks. But when I saw he was not behaving normally, I took him right away.” Gladys shared.

Esperança’s health personnel evaluated Camilo and discovered that he was severely vitamin and micronutrient deficient. He was dangerously close to developing a more severe condition. Esperança provided the treatment and resources necessary for Gladys to feel confident in providing Camilo with a balanced diet that is rich in the protein, vitamins, and minerals he needs to continue growing at a healthy rate.

The team was able to set up routine check-in appointments for Gladys and Camilo, ensuring he was on the right track and serving as support for Gladys as she navigated this new nutritional guidance for Camilo and the rest of her children.

“These development checks leave you no doubt that your child is in good health. Esperança believes that every child is a unique being that should be cared for as one of life’s greatest treasures. As a parent, this is such a valuable program.”

Esperança in Bolivia provides both the training for local health personnel and the materials needed for the nutritional evaluation of children. This two-fold support ensures that families have all the tools and training they need to feel confident paving the way to a healthy lifestyle for generations to come.

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