Costa Rica

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On 13 March 2014, the Republic of Costa Rica became the 50th country to commit to scaling up nutrition with a letter of commitment from Minister of Health, Daisy María Corrales Díaz. The government has been making efforts to improve the health of the population through strengthening nutrition programs and surveillance systems nationwide. This has resulted in a decrease in chronic undernutrition nationwide and the country is resolved to continue making progress.

Costa Rica joins with a designated focal point, Dr. Cecilia Gamboa, Director of Strategic Planning and Evaluation of Health Interventions.

Progress

Bringing people together
50% 2017

Bringing people together

Coherent policy and legal framework
45% 2017

Coherent policy and legal framework

Aligning programs around a Common Results Framework
41% 2017

Aligning programs around a Common Results Framework

Financial tracking and resource mobilization
32% 2017

Financial tracking and resource mobilization

TOTAL
42% 2017

TOTAL

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Nutrition situation

5.6%

Under Five Stunting

7.3%

Low Birth Weight

32.5%

0-5 Months Exclusive Breastfeeding

1%

Under Five Wasting

8.1%

Under Five Overweight

19%

Woman Anaemia 15-49 years

9%

Adult Blood Glucose (Diabetes)

60.4%

Adult Overweight

24.3%

Adult Obesity

Strategic objectives

The UN Network for SUN has been in place since early 2017, comprising the Pan-American Health Organization, FAO, and the UN Coordinator’s Office. The joint workplan of the UN agencies and the Government gives priority to identifying additional actors and overcoming difficulties encountered, by including actors such as UNICEF. Joint terms of reference have been agreed upon, and 10 meetings have been held. A roundtable is now being organised to finetune nutrition-related decisions and objectives, and the work will be decentralised. The appointment of the SUN focal point has been endorsed, as appointed by the previous Health Minister in 2014.

Last updated: November 2017

2016
Costa Rica has revived the high-level Ministerial Council of the Secretariat of National Food and Nutrition Policy (SEPAN), which is led by the Ministry of Health and is responsible for interinstitutional and multi-sectoral coordination. By allocating resources to SEPAN, the Government aims to make progress on developing nutrition actions across the different sectors in 2016. The country’s United Nations agencies are collaborating with the Government to promote the participation of other stakeholders in forming a multi-stakeholder platform.

Last updated: December 2016

2015
Since 1973, the legally established Secretariat for National Policy for Food and Nutrition (SEPAN), under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, has been in charge of coordinating different sectors and institutions in Costa Rica. Although SEPAN had in the past been undermined by a lack of political support, the current government is committed to strengthening the institution.

Costa Rica does not have just one multi-stakeholder platform but eight technical committees and commissions which serve as shared spaces for action on nutrition issues at a central level. These bodies have responsibilities in the areas of: breastfeeding, health and nutrition for schoolchildren, child and adolescent undernutrition, nutritional guides, the 5-A-Day Network (for healthy eating), nutritional value of foods, micronutrients and strategy for chronic noncommunicable diseases and obesity, preschool and school food programmes and governance of food security and nutrition. Each of these bodies has its own work plan and specific objectives, which are assessed at the end of the year.

Last updated: October 2015

The Planning Ministry approved the creation of a Department for Nutrition and Sport, nested in the Ministry of Health, greatly strengthening nutrition governance. The Ministry of Health promotes compliance with the legal and regulatory framework for nutrition, with regards breastfeeding and the improvement of micronutrient-rich foods. A draft bill of on the right to food has been promoted, spearheaded by the University of Costa Rica and with the involvement of the Ministries of Health, Public Education, Agriculture and Livestock Farming, the National Women’s Institute, community-based organisations, academia, parliamentarians, and the UN, among others. This law has so far gained the support of more than 50 per cent of parliamentarians, and is hoped to be discussed in the Legislative Assembly.

Last updated: November 2017

2016
The  2011-2021 National Policy on Food Security and Nutrition  gives guidance on nutrition. The 2014-2018 Development Plan includes nutrition under the scope of health, nutrition and sport, and incorporates specific targets for reducing childhood obesity and anaemia. Although the country has a solid legal framework, the Government is aiming to strengthen its monitoring system in a bid to evaluate its reach.

Last updated: December 2016

2015
The 2011-2021 National Policy on Food Security and Nutrition and the 2011-2015 National Plan for Food Security and Nutrition are the official documents guiding interventions in food and nutrition in the country. The country’s government for 2014-2018 has included the nutrition component as a priority in the health section of the National Development Plan. Goals established include a two per cent reduction in obesity for five to 12 year-olds, as well as specific goals relating to the reduction of chronic noncommunicable diseases, the risk factors for which first appear in childhood.

This year, the National Agreement of the Council of Ministers for a comprehensive approach to dealing with chronic noncommunicable diseases and obesity was signed by the President, 16 Ministers and high-level officials of government institutions as well as the Costa Rican Office of the Pan American Health Organization acting as witness.

Costa Rica has a strong regulatory framework of food fortification using micronutrients which are deficient in the population. This framework is the fruit of tough negotiations and advocacy between the Ministry of Health and the food industry on the basis of scientific evidence and the findings of national nutrition surveys. Current executive decrees regulate the production of salt, rice, sugar, wheat and, maize flour and milk.

Last updated: October 2015

The first weight and height census among schoolchildren revealed that an alarming 34 per cent of children were overweight or obese in 2016. The Ministry of Health is developing a National Child and Adolescent Obesity Prevention, Plan with the active involvement of SUN members. The census also justified the implementation of local obesity-prevention projects among schoolchildren and the continuation of preventive nutrition services with the National Directorate of Education and Nutrition Centers and Children’s Centers for Comprehensive Care. The Plan complements the 2015-2018 National Development Plan and the 2015-2019 National Health Plan, as each mainstream nutrition. The SUN Movement and the UN Network for SUN in Costa Rica have agreed on a participatory analysis of nutrition to increase momentum and move towards a common results framework.

Last updated: November 2017

2016
The 2014-2018 National Health Policy provides a results framework for nutrition, and inter-institutional committees now have their own workplans. Nutrition indicators have been integrated in to the Food Security and Nutrition Information System (SINSAN) since 2014. The system is currently being strengthened to provide multi-sectoral analysis and systematic evaluation of the results achieved.

Last updated: December 2016

2015
The nutrition programmes and measures are a response to the National Health Policy and the 2014-2018 National Development Plan, which provided for the management of resources and agreements between government institutions, academia and NGOs.

The Policy on Food Security and Nutrition, as well as the Costa Rican Strategy and Action Plan on Tackling Noncommunicable Diseases, are in line with the institutional plans and agreements to which the country is party.

In 2013, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Livestock and the National Census and Statistics Institute to create the Food Security and Nutrition Information System (SINSAN). This aim of this system, which is currently in use and being strengthened, is to provide timely and reliable information on the formulation, follow-up and assessment of public policies aimed at strengthening food security and nutrition in Costa Rica.

Last updated: October 2015

A budget is available within the institutions to plan and implement nutrition-related activities each year, as in the case of the Ministry of Public Education’s school canteens. There is no tracking of budget implementation by budget line but it is expected that, once the Department for Nutrition and Sport is up and running within the Ministry of Health, tracking of resources will commence. The nutrition investment report has been produced through the national budget and applying the SUN Movement’s methodology.

Last updated: November 2017

2016
The Government legally establishes the annual budget for the provision of nutrition and dietary services for each implementing agency, and this financial information is publically and centrally available. The challenge for Costa Rica is to increase financial and human resources in order to strengthen actions on malnutrition.

Last updated: December 2016

2015
Costa Rica’s financing for nutrition comes from domestic sources but this funding is inadequate to cover all human resource requirements. In 2015, the country began a process of identifying nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive line items of central government entities as published in the 2014 national budget.

Last updated: October 2015

SUN Government Focal Point

Cecilia Gamboa
Director of Strategic Planning and Evaluation of Health Interventions Ministry of Health

Donor Convenor

  • TBC