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Credits Photo: UNICEF/ECU/2021/Vega
Published on April 30, 2021

Chronic Child Malnutrition


One of the biggest public health problems in Ecuador.

Chronic child malnutrition affects 27.2% of children under 2 years of age in Ecuador. This problem affects the productivity of the country and has an impact throughout people's lives.

The story of Rosa Lanchimba and her son John reveals the challenges faced by the most vulnerable families in helping their children overcome this condition and have better opportunities.

Since 1993, Ecuador has carried out around 12 programs related to health and nutrition, but the DCI curve for children under five has hardly moved. Between 2014 and 2018, it even increased from 24.8% to 27.2% in children under two years of age and  one in four under five  in Ecuador.

DCI is considered one of the main public health problems in the country. To understand the dimension of the problem, it is important to know its multiple causes: inadequate or insufficient nutrition and continuous diseases during the first two years of life, in addition to other deficiencies such as: shortage of drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, and access difficulties to health services. 

Once stunting is diagnosed, there is no going back. That is why it is key to take measures in the first 1,000 days to prevent this condition. 

Once stunting is diagnosed, there is no going back. That is why it is key to take measures in the first 1,000 days to prevent this condition. 

A chronically malnourished child may have learning disabilities at school age, overweight, obesity and non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension or diabetes in adult life, and difficulties entering the job market. 

In addition to affecting the people who suffer from it, malnutrition has a strong impact on the economic and social development of countries. In Ecuador, expenses associated with malnutrition - such as health, education, and loss of productivity - represent 4.3% of Ecuador's gross domestic product (GDP).

Ecuador must end chronic malnutrition. Boys and girls deserve the best start in life. The country cannot wait a second, not a minute, not a day more. The state has to take action now.

Originally published on UNICEF Ecuador