The main cause of anemia is iron deficiency in the blood. This has serious consequences for children. According to the Ministry of Health (Minsa), it reduces the number of neural connections that occur in the brain, slowing down psychomotor development and physical development as well. In addition, it affects your immune system and increases your risk of infection.
The results of the Demographic and Family Health Survey (ENDES 2022) presented by the INEI last May showed that 33.6% of children aged 6 to 59 months had anemia in the previous year. This figure is 5 percentage points higher than in 2021, which had reached 28.4%. This increase is extremely worrying, especially if we consider that its consequences on the development of the individual are irreversible.
Being aware of this, the Ministry of Health takes various actions and strategies to deal with the problem. The most recent is the creation of a multi-sectoral working group that seeks the participation of various institutions. However, the effort is not enough: private sector support is essential to overcoming anemia.
Along these lines, Pacifico Salud decided to restart and strengthen its ‘Tan Fuertes Como El Hierro’ program against childhood anemia, as part of its aim to help people live healthier lives. It is an initiative that seeks to contribute to the prevention and control of childhood anemia by increasing awareness, training, and interventions, as well as an educational environment for anemia screening for children aged 3 to 5 years, their families, and their families. Getting iron supplements to those who need it.
Among the interventions scheduled for 2023, children are required to undergo tests to measure their weight and height and screening tests or to detect anemia. This is an essential point, because it is a silent position. Its presence is practically not noticeable when it is at a mild or moderate level: the child only sleeps, he has a poor appetite and quickly gets tired.
The screening process is performed using a blood sample obtained with a soft puncture on the tip of the index finger. Those who are diagnosed positive are referred for specialized consultation with a paediatrician, and given free iron supplements. They are monitored for the next three months to verify that they comply with the prescribed treatment.
In parallel, activities are carried out with the children along with their parents and guardians, which include demonstration sessions on preparation of iron-rich foods, nutritional counselling, promotion of safe water consumption and hand washing. Parents, teachers, directors and other members of the educational environment are trained on the need to prevent iron deficiency, the importance of ensuring a good diet and how to maintain healthy lifestyle habits.
The process ends with a closing drive to assess the child’s development. In the first phase, 1,053 children were reached, of whom 25% were found to have anaemia, and after 3 months, there were encouraging results, with nearly 70% of the children in remission.
The interventions of the Pacifico Salud program are divided into two phases. The first began in April and ended in July, and focused on five state elementary schools located in the Cruz de Motupe sector of the San Juan de Lurigancho district.
In the second phase, this intervention will be repeated between August and November with the participation of another 5 schools in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho, where it is expected to benefit more than a thousand children aged 3 to 5 years.
This year the target is to screen 2,000 children and provide training to over 4,000 people. Similarly, the event is notable for the participation of more than 300 Pacifico corporate volunteers, whose mission includes guiding, accompanying and providing support to children and their parents at each health campaign station. From providing a warm welcome at the outset, facilitating triage and laboratory procedures, and even assisting in nutrition workshops and pediatric consultations throughout the medical activation phase.
Pacifico has been implementing the “Tan Fuertes Como el Hierro” program against anemia since 2019, and by 2022 the initiative has already monitored more than 2,600 children, trained more than 12,000 people in nutrition and Another 10 million have been exposed to childhood anemia in Peru.
In this way, Pacifico Salud contributes to ensuring the well-being of young children, especially those who are in vulnerable situations.