Hunger is spreading its tentacles to capture thousands of children in its ambit day by day and this time it has victimized the children of Guatemala. The vast majority of them die in situations that never make the news. Their plight is serious, but too often unknown.
Guatemala has the highest rate of malnourished children in the Western Hemisphere, even higher than Haiti, the region’s poorest country. The Central American nation also ranks sixth in the world for chronic malnutrition.
The problem usually begins in the womb of mothers who are anemic throughout their pregnancy and give birth to children with low birth weights. More than half of those babies don’t make it beyond the age of 5.
1. Some 75,000 children have been identified as severely malnourished
2. 60,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition in eastern Guatemala
3. 44% of all children under 5 are suffering due to lack of nutrition
4. in October 2001 discovered that 2.1 percent of children under 5 suffered from acute malnutrition
5. a March 2002 re-survey of the same region found that acute malnutrition had increased to 4.3
1. high crime rates
3. low levels of education and health
4. low international coffee prices since the populace depend mainly on coffee plantation
5. most of the area suffered from drought
Despite the government’s efforts to overcome the illiteracy rates, many children, especially girls, still do not have access to a good primary education. These problems are particularly acute in rural areas with high indigenous populations.
While health outcomes in Guatemala have improved over the last 15 years, maternal and infant mortality and chronic malnutrition rates are much higher than would be expected, given the country’s level of per capita income. 56% of chronically malnourished children in Central America live in Guatemala and 49% of pre-school children in Guatemala are chronically malnourished.
What could be done?
The country must formulate certain policies that may co relate with the rights of women and children. Along with governmental organizations, certain non-governmental organizations must be set in order to safeguard the civil and political rights, especially of the most disadvantaged groups.
Certain awareness programs regarding AIDS/HIV should be initiated since widespread malnutrition may lead to endemic health problems including AIDS. Thus, sustainable programs must be created to provide healthcare services.
Emphasis should be paid on the spread of education. Time to time monitoring should be done in order to check the effective functioning of the rights and for the rights problems of women and children.