Chronic child malnutrition in Ecuador is the consequence of three problems: the low consumption of nutrients for a long period, the constant appearance of infectious diseases and, the poor absorption of nutrients. The country is in second place in the chronic child malnutrition under 5 years old in Southamerica ranking, only behind Guatemala. According to a study carried out by CEPAL in 2018, this illness has increased from 24 % in 2014 to 27.2% in 2018 in children under 2 years old in Ecuador.
The gravity of this situation is relevant because it can cause permanent damage to the child.
It not only delays the right physical development of the children (ex: low height for age), it also affects their mental development. Tomography studies and magnetic resonances made to children affected by chronic malnutrition showed compatible images with cerebral atrophy because at this age the central nervous system has been affected inducing damage in their intellectual potential which limits their competitive capabilities in the future.
The first 1000 days of life are key to prevent chronic child malnutrition. This time goes from conception to age two, this is a time when a positive influence is possible and when the children can achieve correct physical and mental development. A right diet should begin in the pregnancy, every mother should have access to 5 daily meals. On the contrary, it could bring cardiovascular diseases, obesity, metabolic síndrome in adulthood, respiratory diseases, cancer and also mental diseases. It is important to highlight that another important problem is the lack of prevention, mothers and children don't go to the doctor for their control, this prevents the correct follow up of the doctors.
Education as a weapon to fight against chronic child malnutrition is vitally important. It helps the parents have the right information that influences positively in the children's development.
On the other hand, poor nutrition brings with it negative consequences of all types, on one side it affects the children physical development, brings diseases, and affects their school performance because their brain there is not a correct brain development which harms their cognitive ability hindering the correct process of information, affecting their attention, perception, memory, problem-solving, comprehensive and others. These problems affect the children, complicating a correct development in their education which increases the school dropout frustrating their working and social future.
These problems not only affect every person but also affect the productivity of every country. For example, the true Price of chronic child malnutrition is 4.3% of the GDP of Ecuador producing expenses of health, education, and poor productivity that could have been prevented.
Another point to consider is that chronic malnutrition always goes hand in hand with poverty and social inequality (the mother can not buy adequate food) frustrating the necessary intake of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbs. It is also affected by the poor or zero access to basic services such as safe drinking water (there is the presence of heavy metals and bacterias that could cause parasitism) that cause harm to the children's health and cause insufficient growth and susceptibility to illness. One example of this is the limited access to basic services in the indigenous communities.
COVID-19 pandemic made the access to adequate treatment to the children who suffer from chronic malnutrition more complicated because the health brigades (which treats this problem particularly) had to redirect their efforts to the vaccination program.
In Ecuador, the government should assign the required resources to develop a corrective action plan to eradicate this problem, if this can be achieved it would facilitate an improvement in the quality of life of these children, access to health, education and eliminate chronic malnutrition once and for all.
Efectos de la desnutrición proteicocalorica en el sistema nervioso central del niño:
Desnutricion Infantil en el mudo:
La desnutrición infantil, un abismo frente al futuro:
Alarma por alto índice de desnutrición infantil en Ecuador
Edited by Andrea Saltos