IMSS, UNICEF-Mexico Work to Prevent Malnutrition
The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) signed a memorandum of understanding to assist children, adolescents and pregnant women in the fight against malnutrition. Aversion, early diagnosis and treatment are the plan’s core strategies.
Malnutrition and obesity impede the correct development of vulnerable groups. “Obesity is like the new illiteracy,” said Zoé Robledo, General Director, IMSS. Having obese children in schools and households should be as equally alarming as having illiterate children, said Robledo during the signing event. Between 2006 and 2021, obese and overweight in children increased by 4 percent, added, Célida Duque, Medical Benefits Director, IMSS. The 2018 National Health and Nutrition Survey shows that 22 percent of girls and boys under five years old are at risk of suffering from being overweight.
The pandemic lay a heavier burden on those with obesity, who were 56 percent more at risk of needing hospitalization and 75 percent more likely to die, according to the Mexican Association of Pharmaceutical Research Industries (AMIIF). But not only is their physical health at stake, mental health issues are also associated to overweight and can affect quality of life.
The signed memorandum of understanding also introduces objectives to fight malnutrition, said UNICEF's Luis Fernando Carrera. Just one year into the pandemic, 13.8 million more people suffered from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, as reported by MBN. According to UNICEF, in Mexico, one in eight children under five years old suffers from chronic malnutrition, which mainly affects southern states of Mexico such as Yucatan and Chiapas, some of the first entities to benefit from the agreement.
The memorandum also prioritizes pregnant women’s needs. The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the cognitive development of a newborn can be affected when the mother suffers anemia. The Ministry of Health said that 17.9 percent of women suffer anemia in Mexico. Nevertheless, the Global Nutrition Report states that progress has been made in reducing anemia among women of reproductive age.
The memorandum of understanding aims to put focus on nutrition challenges in post-pandemic times. Robledo emphasized that “the COVID-19 pandemic brought, not a redefinition of priorities, but a new outlook in face of the contingency. And today, regarding the situation that we are living in, priorities must be rethought, and among them should be the topics related to obesity and nutrition”