Esperança

Preventing Infant Mortality in Bolivia

Claudia is 34 years old. She and her husband raise their two daughters (ages 4 and 11) in the Tierra Linda neighborhood of Bolivia, a new peri-urban district, devoid of sewer systems. Many schools and homes in rural Bolivia lack both running water and sanitation facilities. Imagine being in Claudia’s shoes; raising two young girls, going about your daily routine, and never washing or sanitizing your hands.

With this lack of resources and education, diarrheal diseases in children under the age of 5 remain one of the leading causes of child mortality in Bolivia. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that handwashing is one of the main preventive measures for diarrheal diseases that lead to child mortality.

For years Claudia’s family lived unaware of the risk they were taking, until she found Esperança. Claudia is now one of the beneficiaries of Esperança’s Health and Child Protection project, where she has learned about issues such as children’s rights, child nutrition, developmental stimulation, and more recently, prevention of diarrheal diseases through good hygiene practices, especially hand washing.

Esperança and its partner, Esperanza Bolivia, is developing several intervention courses for the prevention of child mortality, among them, is developing the strategy of handwashing as a means of contributing to improve the health and quality of life of children like Claudia’s, unaware that something so simple can prevent terrible illness. Parents, mothers and children are being trained in disease prevention issues, giving special attention to the proper handwashing.

Katerin is Claudia’s daughter, she’s 4 years old and recently learned about disease prevention through handwashing and dental hygiene. Katerin, and the other 61 children who attended the training, received a hygiene kit containing soap, toothbrushes, a washcloth, and toothpaste – the first they ever owned!

Claudia says that participating in the trainings is helping her daughters have pride in taking care of themselves. “Now my daughter makes me remember to wash my hands and teeth!”

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Elena Burr