Thursday, November 01, 2012
FSD Public Health Intern - Fighting Malnutrition in Bolivia
In Bolivia, malnutrition remains a national concern--especially for children under three, for whom its effects constitute a significant portion of Bolivia’s child mortality rate of 6.5%, the highest in South America and the second highest in Latin America. 65% of these deaths take place in rural areas, where children often lack access to proper nutrition, health care, and rehabilitation programs. Under the direction of Program Director Mauricio Ramirez and in conjunction with FSD's community partners, FSD interns are working on the ground to address this pressing issue. One of those interns is Billy Baumgartner, who interned with El Centro de Rehabilitiacíon Infantil (el CRIN) in Anzaldo, Bolivia this summer.
El CRIN is a rural development organization that provides educational and health services to local communities. During his internship, Billy worked on infant health issues and identified an opportunity to support CRIN's efforts in addressing the local problem of malnutrition among young children. While el CRIN’s rehabilitation programs showed immediate improvements in a child’s health and overall wellbeing, they noted that there were ample cases of malnutrition relapse once children rehabilitated at el CRIN exited the program. With the help of the organization's staff, Billy designed a public awareness program to address malnutrition in the community.
Thanks to a proposal development by Billy, el CRIN won a grant from FSD. With these funds, CRIN garnered support from local professionals and field experts to provide training to adults in health & cleanliness, nutrition, agriculture & gardening and microfinance. The program, SaludAdelante, reached dozens of children and adults in the countryside and is still making an impact on malnutrition prevention. SaludAdelante was aimed at the root causes of malnutrition; namely, educating families on nutritional requirements so that malnutrition does not become a recurring problem when rehabilitated children leave el CRIN.
Billy ensured the sustainability of the program by collaborating with the staff to create reusable training materials that were designed with the specific needs of this community in mind. All printed material was developed in a way that could be easily understood by the members of the community, no matter their level of literacy. Billy's project demonstrates the commitment that CRIN staff, local teachers, and healthcare personnel have made in this multifaceted approach towards nutrition education and health awareness.
The foresight and planning in the sustainability of Billy’s project, especially after his departure, is emblematic of FSD's work. Our partners and interns are uniquely committed to implementing sustainable, asset-based development initiatives in the communities they work, and they continue to inspire us everyday.
Click here to read more about our past interns and their projects in the field!