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73% of children under five suffer from severe malnutrition in Venezuela

The Catholic charity and NGO highlights the impact of the quarantine established in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic on that most vulnerable of groups: minors.

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By Carlos Lopez Dorante.

According to the report “Sentinel Monitoring of Acute Malnutrition and Family Food Security,” carried out by Catholic NGO Caritas Venezuela, in the second quarter of this year 2020, 73% of the population of children under five years of age suffer from severe malnutrition.

“45% of homes do not report eating meat, 74% do not consume dairy products, and 55% do not eat eggs. On average, 58% of households have not been able to access high biological value proteins, nor essential nutrients such as iron,” the report states, adding that less than 40% of households report regular intake of vegetables and fruits.

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The report also indicates that 49% of the cases of malnutrition concentrated in children under two years of age.

“Twenty percent of the youngest children (under six months) were affected by acute malnutrition. In the group from six months to 2-years-old, the percentage of children identified with malnutrition was 16%”, it assures.

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The report concludes that malnutrition has worsened with the implementation of the social quarantine ordered by the government of Maduro to contain the spread of COVID-19, which has impacted at all levels the border states of Zulia, Bolivar, Amazonas, Sucre, and Apure, in addition to Greater Caracas.

The report points out, however, that the dioceses with the high number of malnourished children are those of Valencia, Acarigua, Los Teques, Cumana, Carupano, Machiques, Barinas, and Caracas.

On the other hand, they highlight that the increase in food prices in commercial establishments and supermarkets has been notorious, and according to the NGO, it reached up to a 51% monthly increase, without there having been the corresponding adjustment to the minimum wage to compensate for the disparity.
In October 2020, Venezuela will enter its fourth year of hyperinflation, the only ongoing case in the world of the phenomenon, which began in October 2017.

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“The food purchasing power of the official salary ($1.4) covers only 0.8% of the cost of the basic basket,” they emphasize. A devaluation since the report got prepared has diminished the minimum monthly wage even further, to around $0.90 now.

Regarding pregnant women, the report points out that the average age is 24 years and that 51% of pregnant women who have been attended by the NGO presented acute malnutrition. Meanwhile, adolescent pregnancy is around 16%, and 44% of them suffer from acute malnutrition.

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