Standing Tall: Peru’s Success in the Fight against Chronic Malnutrition
On December 12, 2017 the report titled “Standing Tall: Peru’s Success in the Fight against Chronic Malnutrition” was presented in Lima (Peru). This publication, prepared by the World Bank, tells how Peru has more than halved its high rates of stunting in children under 5 years of age from 28% in 2008 to 13% in 2016.
A group of leading scholars from civil society organizations persistently sought concrete and effective measures to address the aforementioned problem. Using a superb communication strategy, an extensive outreach campaign was carried out to raise awareness about the devastating effects of chronic malnutrition. All the while stunting remained on the political agenda as a serious economic and developmental issue.
Resource flows and existing programs were reviewed and reformed while the budget was reallocated to areas with the highest burden of malnutrition. As part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s results-based approach to allocating resources to nutrition, sectors came together and worked towards a common goal. The importance of real-time data and effective systems was recognized from the beginning and action was taken.
Parents, local governments and health professionals were encouraged, using successful persuasion techniques, to seek and provide better nutrition and health services and change attitudes and behaviors in order to establish better feeding practices for children during their first thousand days of life. Chronic malnutrition often results in stunted children who will suffer a number of negative consequences, with poor brain development being the most devastating. Children are the future of Peru, which is why combating chronic malnutrition has become a national cause and long-lasting political decisions have been made regarding good governance.
— Banco Mundial (@BancoMundial) November 14, 2017
Although Peru has not completely eliminated childhood stunting, its progress has been remarkable and it provides lessons for other countries hoping to end this social and economic scourge. Peru is by no means the only country making significant progress in this area. Other countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Senegal and Ethiopia have managed to accelerate the rate at which they have reduced stunting. However, Peru stands out internationally because of its rapid and pronounced progress in more than halving stunting rates in less than a decade. Peru recognized that its children are its future, made fighting chronic malnutrition a national cause, adopted fundamental political decisions and prioritized efficient long-term governance.
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