San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Health Officials Seeking Answers to Malnutrition

Costa Rica’s health authorities this year are setting out on a bold plan: End starvation among the country’s youngest, most vulnerable inhabitants by 2012.

Considering this country’s health care system, “we shouldn’t be registering deaths because of hunger or severe malnutrition,” Rosa Novygrodt, director of the nutrition office at the Public Health Ministry, said at a press conference Wednesday.

“Our plan is zero deaths from hunger by 2012,” she said.

National statistics indicate that starvation in Costa Rica has been declining in recent years. In 2004, nine children died from hunger. In 2005, the number was five and in 2006, it dropped to three.

However, malnutrition is on the increase. Sixty-five children in Costa Rica suffered from malnutrition in 2005, rising to 77 in 2006. These totals reflect only the numbers of children who were cared for by doctors.

The ministry is most concerned about children age 5 and under, it said.

Its plan, still awaiting a budget, is intended to promote breastfeeding and to build new, and improve existing, medical facilities for the poorest families.


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