Venezuela Reduces Malnutrition in Children to Four Percent

Dear Friends,

One things we appreciate about Venezuela is that amidst all the turmoil, the Bolivarian process marches on. It’s more than just food — Our report from visiting Venezuela explains the programs that are giving children new hope in their future. See post
98 Percent of Venezuelans Eat Three Times Per Day

by James Suggett

Mérida, July 7, 2008 — According to Venezuela’s National Nutrition Institute (INN), slightly more than 4% of Venezuelan children under the age of 5 suffered malnutrition in 2007 according to the standards set by the World Health Organization WHO).

This represents a reduction of more than 16 percentage points in malnutrition since 1998, the year President Hugo Chávez was elected, when the figure was 21%, says the INN. The WHO has commended this achievement, according to the Bolivarian News Agency.

The INN also reported that 98% of Venezuelans eat three times per day, thanks to the emergence of several government programs for food security. These programs include the subsidized food markets known as MERCAL, and preventative health education promoted by the Barrio Adentro “Mission,” which provides free health care with support from Cuban doctors.WHO representative Pedro Alabajar pointed out during an inter-governmental conference on Chagas Disease in the Andean Region last Friday that Venezuela’s efforts to combat and prevent Chagas Disease continue to be exemplary for the region.

The Pan-American Health Organization also recognizes Venezuela’s efforts, Albajar affirmed. According to the WHO website, Chagas Disease is found only in Latin America.

Alabajar highlighted, however, that since it was discovered that Chagas Disease can be transmitted orally, Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana will face new challenges in fighting the disease.

At a simultaneous conference about preventative health in the workplace last Friday, Labor Minister Roberto Hernández advocated the reduction of the workday nation-wide, and said that workers should be the protagonists in improving their working conditions for preventative health purposes.

The minister said that socialism in Venezuela means increasing the power of civil society over what has traditionally been controlled by private and government entities. “Each People, in accordance with its history, with its culture, creates concrete forms of socialism,” he articulated.

The minister acknowledged that the reduction of the workday was part of the constitutional reform proposal that was voted down last December in a national referendum, but “that does not mean that we cannot do it in another way, like in an ordinary law or even an administrative measure.”

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