Maternal and Child Health in Bolivia

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Posted on 5/23/2013

Millions of people who live in the South American nation of Bolivia lack access to basic food requirements for a healthy diet, making malnutrition a serious health issue. For pregnant women and children in particular, the situation is even more severe. According to the Foundation for Sustainable Development, Bolivia has the second-highest infant, child and maternal mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere, largely due to malnutrition.

The Importance of Proper Nutrition in Child Development

Today, about 25 percent of Bolivian children under the age of 3 are malnourished. This can cause devastating, lifelong effects in a child’s development, as it is crucial for them to get the proper nutrients during the 1,000-day window between their mother's pregnancy and their second birthday. Undernutrition and malnourishment at this time can lead to developmental and psychological issues that can affect children throughout their lives.

At the same time, the effects of malnourishment in pregnant women include higher risks of passing along other conditions that could affect their baby’s health. For instance, the Foundation for Sustainable Development reports that about 27 percent of Bolivian women of childbearing age suffer from severe iron deficiencies, and will probably pass this condition on to their children. Adding to this complication is the fact that mothers with anemia are more likely to suffer from exhaustion, and may not be able to properly care for their children and ensure they are developing properly, according to UNICEF.

Lending a Helping Hand

To ensure Bolivian children have a chance to grow up well-nourished, ChildFund has participated in a wide range of projects in the country. For example, with help from the Bolivia Ministry of Health, ChildFund has worked to ensure Bolivian children receive the health care they need during the first two years of their lives. Community health workers go to mothers' homes to ensure they are feeding their children properly and to educate them about proper development stimulation. In this way, we can make sure children are receiving the care they need during the critical 1,000-day period.

One of the best ways you can help us support Bolivian children is by sponsoring a child. For $28 per month — around $1 per day — you can help these children receive the nutrients they need to grow up healthily.