The prevalence of severe childhood malnutrition in Brazil is increasing. Church organizations are responding by advocating for new public policies to protect children and participating in state councils that define and oversee how choices of this nature are implemented.

Helping the Needy

According to the OSV News, church organizations in Brazil that help the most disadvantaged members of society have noted multiple times that there has been a discernible increase in the number of people without homes, including children, in some cities for the last few years.

Church organizations are also working on the state and local levels to advance measures to safeguard particularly vulnerable children. This is the situation in Sao Paulo, where the Archdiocesan Ministry for the Pastoral Care of Minors actively drafted a measure that will serve as the basis for the city's policy for children without homes.

The bill, which was approved by the city council and is currently awaiting the sanction of the mayor, establishes the set of measures that the various areas of the city government must take to take the children off the streets and adequately reintegrate them into society.

As mentioned, church activists believe that the previous president, Jair Bolsonaro, did not take adequate action to address the situation. During his time in office, Bolsonaro was responsible for dismantling 75% of the committees that members of civil society had established to assist the government in formulating and carrying out policies for various topics, including food programs.

On the other hand, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) stated that they have been providing technical support for the response to the disaster since Jan. 15, when a PAHO team participated in an investigative trip to gain a deeper understanding of the situation and identify healthcare requirements in the event of an emergency.

Currently, in coordination with the Brazilian Ministry of Health and other national institutions, as well as the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), civil society, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and United Nations agencies, PAHO supports the response in indigenous communities and the national Public Health Emergency Operation Center (EOC Yanomami).

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Malnutrition in Brazil

Nova News reported that the number of hospitalizations of children younger than one-year-old in Brazil due to malnutrition was the greatest in the previous 2021 years in 2013. According to the report, which analyzes National Health System statistics, the rate has continuously increased since 2016. Specifically, the Hospital documented 2,979 hospitalizations in this age category during the previous year.

Aug. 30, 2022, data show that 2022 could be worse. The public health network has documented 2,115 hospitalizations of infants under one year old due to malnutrition. An increase of 7 percent compared to 2021, with an average rate of 8.7 hospitalizations daily. Since 2016, Brazil's hospitalization rate for malnutrition among infants under one year old has increased. In the previous year, there were 113 hospitalizations for every 100 births, a 51 percent rise from 2011, when the lowest rate since the time series began in 2009 was observed. In that year, there were 75 child hospitalizations for every 100 live births.

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