Guatemala admits death of 88 kids from malnutrition

Guatemala City: The Guatemalan government has acknowledged that 88 children, less than five years of age, have died in this Central American country this year so far from severe malnutrition, a scourge that affects 49 percent of minors here.

The latest case was reported Thursday in the indigenous community of Purulha in the northern province of Baja Verapaz, where a nine-month-old boy died of dehydration after suffering diarrhoea and vomiting for over 12 hours.

This minor had been rescued four months ago by the presidential office of food security and taken to a public hospital, but the parents removed him and took him home before doctors were ready to release him.

Vice President Roxana Baldetti told reporters that including the boy in Purulha, 88 children have died in the country from malnutrition, but said the number is 50 percent less than last year.

Baldetti said the authorities asked Brayan's mother to take him to a health center when he started getting worse, "but unfortunately that wasn't possible."

Authorities are now trying to save the life of Brayan's twin sister, who also suffers from severe malnutrition.

The mother of the boy who died, Maria Maaz, 18, told reporters that she couldn't get Brayan to the hospital on time because she neither had money nor anyone to take care of her other three children.

To combat chronic malnutrition, the government is promoting a programme that consists of guaranteeing food security for the mother from the time she is pregnant until the child is 2 years old.

However, the programme has not yet been launched in all parts of the country.

Childhood malnutrition is one of the main consequences of the poverty that affects 52 percent of the 15 million inhabitants of this Central American nation.

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