One in 10 of Colombia’s children are suffering from chronic malnutrition, according to international children’s organization UNICEF.
This is a fact that is not ‘abnormal’ in the whole of Latin America but is considerably less than the figures for children in Africa and South Asia.
Unicef chief Anthony Lake stressed that acute or severe malnutrition — which causes the child to have a weight well below the standard for their height — kills children everywhere, especially in conflict areas like Colombia and in Africa.
“There are starving children in all countries of the world, not only in Colombia,” he stated in an interview with Spanish news agency EFE.
The representative for the humanitarian body also sought to highlight the importance of adequate food for the first thousand days of life, considering it to be essential for both their physical and intellectual development of a child.
A child suffering from chronic malnutrition has a stunting (not reaching the recommended height for age) and sees their cognitive and intellectual abilities affected, which have irreversible consequences for the rest of their lives. This “not only damages their future, but also that of their country,” said Lake.
Colombia’s chronic malnutrition among children highlights the need for both governments and parents to understand the importance of proper nutrition and breastfeeding during the first months of a child’s life, providing all the necessary nutrients.
In Colombia, at least five children of the indigenous Wayuu community have died in the north of the country so far this year by problems associated with malnutrition, a situation that has worsened in La Guajira, bordering northern region with Venezuela, following severe drought that hit the area.
In December, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) ordered the government to take measures to “preserve the life and integrity” of Wayuu children and adolescents in the municipalities of Uribia, Manaure, Riohacha and Maicao.
In 2015, 38 children died from diseases associated with malnutrition in Colombia, according to reports from the Ministry of Health.
That same year 898 malnourished children in La Guajira were recorded, according to a report by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF).
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