The table below shows that 7.7% of children younger than five are underweight in the Apurímac department, 0.9% of them heavily so. Already with a mild form of the problem the risk of dying rises.
56.7% of toddlers in the same department suffer from dwarfism, i.e. more than half of them. Dwarfism is the result of poor nutrition on the long term and it increases the risk of diseases and of dying. It often goes hand in hand with slower mental development, bad school results and generally mental impairment. Moreover, it creates a vicious circle: a short woman has a higher risk of having a child with a low birth weight, which causes the child to be short when they are adults.
Source: WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, September 2010
The United Nations Organisation publishes reports on a regular basis, in which the progress that is made on the millenium goals is looked into. One of these millennium goals is to erradicate extreme poverty and hunger. An other goal is to reduce child mortality. The mortality rate of children younger than five was 23 in every 1,000 live births in 2010.
When we look into the causes of death in children younger than five, we notice that four of them – which account for 43% of deaths – could be prevented with medication and an adequate treatment: pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and AIDS. Nutrition also plays an important role. Malnutrition appears to be an underlying factor for more than one third of the causes of death.
Malnutrition can not only be caused by bad eating habits, but can also be the result of parasites in the intestines. These parasites end up in the body because of bad hygiene and unclear drinking water. There are no figures on the number of children with parasites, but our experiences teach us that there are many of them.
Almost all of the children from the Urpi Sonqocha project where we volunteered had parasites. Medical treatment had little effect, because the parasites had become resistant to the medication the children received. However, tap water in Peru is not clear drinking water. The situation is not likely to change soon, so the only way to tackle the problem of parasites is to launch prevention campaigns so that families learn how to live in more hygienic circumstances (United Nations, 2010).