By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – A study released on Thursday in Guatemala City indicates that 45.6 percent of Guatemalan children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The lack of adequate nutrition has led to a significantly lower physical growth rate than the average established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The national census determined that children between the ages of eight and nine were most affected by malnutrition with girls being disproportionately affected; for instance, Guatemalan girls are, on average, eight to twelve centimeters shorter than the average set by the WHO.
The effects of malnutrition are intensified within the Indigenous provinces of Solola and Totonicapan where the study found that 49.7 percent of children suffer from malnutrition and one in every sixteen will die before reaching the age of five. An earlier study by the Catholic Relief Services attributed the high malnutrition rate to the thirty year civil war and decades of political policies that have excluded Mayan Indigenous people from accessing basic services such as health care and education. Juan Aguilar, head of the presidency’s Food Security Secretariat, added that the high malnutrition rate among children was a result of inadequate food, high levels of poverty, and a dearth of basic services.
For more information, please see:
Relief Web – Breaking Malnutrition’s Cycle in Guatemala – 25 January 2009
Baltimore Sun – Viewpoint: School Lunches Can Nourish Hope – 26 January 2009
Latin American Herald Tribune – Nearly Half of Guatemala’s Children Suffer from Malnutrition – 15 February 2009