Background: Worldwide, two thirds of children who are chronically malnourished live in lower- to middle-income countries. A 2017 report from the Pan American Health Organization found that prevalence of hunger has recently increased in six Latin American countries, including in Peru. According to the World Food Programme, 13.1% of Peruvian children are malnourished with child malnutrition reaching as high as 33.4% in rural areas where government programs and funding are less available. The Peruvian Ministry of Health (MINSA) estimates that 43.5% of children aged 6 to 35 months are anemic, with estimates rising to 51.1% in rural areas, concerns about the lasting health effects of malnutrition on children and pregnant women. Although MINSA has created technical guides and interventions to combat these issues, the resources necessary for effective interventions are rarely available in rural areas of Peru. Public Health Without Borders (PHWB) relies on its 5-year relationship with the community of Compone, an agricultural highland community 16 miles west of Cusco, to address public health issues that are relevant to the residents.
Goal: In collaboration with the local health clinic in Compone, the PHWB team modified MINSA’s materials and implemented a culturally-competent, low-cost nutrition intervention.
Objectives: Based on a 2013 technical document from MINSA, this education-based intervention aimed to prevent negative health outcomes associated with malnutrition by targeting children and childbearing age women.
Approach: PHWB led 30-minute workshops (in Spanish) at the clinic and covered information on portion sizes, food groups, and the effects of malnutrition. Each workshop included: 1) a short presentation (charla), 2) a hands-on activity, 3) a child’s activity book about nutrition, and 4) a summary handout for participants to take home.
Results: The workshop was held twice over the course of the week with a total of 17 participants. Participant feedback and discussion helped shape a follow-up nutrition intervention that PHWB will implement in Compone in July 2018.
Importance to public health: This intervention provides a model for the creation of future culturally competent interventions based on community input and materials from the partner country.