With the aim of guaranteeing the health of students in the country’s public system, the National Institute of Student Welfare (Inabie) assisted with the evaluation and delivery of nutritional supplements to 234 students diagnosed with underweight, after a survey carried out by the Integral System for the Food and Nutritional Surveillance of School Children (Sisvane), of the Directorate of Nutritional Formulation and Evaluation.
During the usual days of nutritional intervention in different public schools carried out this year, Inabie’s Nutrition specialists identified 32 students with severe underweight and 202 with moderate underweight in the educational regions 08-Santiago and 10 and 15 of Santo Domingo.
In accordance with INABIE’s mission, which is to reduce educational vulnerability, six cans of nutritional supplements were delivered, corresponding to a three-month treatment for the benefit of each student diagnosed.
Dr. Ana Zabala, head of the Nutritional Evaluation Division, explained that malnutrition or malnutrition by deficit is the lack of intake of essential nutrients for the growth and well-being of the individual.
“A malnourished child is a child who has a deficiency in the intake of nutrients, so he/she can have a delay in growth, learning and is more vulnerable to suffer from diseases that can worsen and cause death,” she warned.
In turn, Dr. Bianca Bejarán pointed out that the main symptoms of malnutrition are tiredness, lack of interest in games, irritability and excessive crying, attention deficit, dry skin, hair loss, lack of strength and decrease in muscle mass, swollen abdomen and legs.
During an intervention carried out at the Hermanas Mirabal Educational Center in Ciudad Juan Bosch, Elisabet Vargas, also a specialist in Nutrition, indicated that in order to prevent a school child from becoming malnourished, he/she should eat a balanced diet containing vegetables, fruits, cereals and proteins.
After receiving the supplements, parents of beneficiary students thanked Inabie for its assistance and highlighted the savings that receiving the aid means for them.
“I have an 11-year-old girl and she has always been underweight, sometimes she lacks energy, she is very quiet. It has been an expensive process and sometimes we do not earn enough to take her to nutrition and buy the supplements and take the diet they put her on, if Inabie helps us, the process is more bearable,” said Ana Perez.
Meanwhile, Dr. Zabala urged the parents of the students who suffer from this condition to follow up their evolution after taking the treatment and to fully comply with the medical recommendations so that their children can recover.
“My son does not interact much, he is very quiet, sometimes he feels tired, he is underweight and very short for his age. With these supplements I hope that my child will grow and develop like other children,” said Yolanda Felipe.
After completing the treatment, Inabie’s specialists will reevaluate the students and, depending on their evolution, will determine their medical discharge or referral to primary care.
Food and Nutrition Education
In addition to targeted interventions, through Sisvane, Inabie gives talks on healthy eating to the educational community throughout the school year, so that in addition to the food that students receive from the School Meals Program, they and their parents, guardians and teachers have the necessary guidance to make appropriate decisions when eating outside and inside the school.
Likewise, to guarantee a balanced and healthy diet, the Nutrition Formulation and Evaluation Department and the Nutrition Department have implemented improvements in the school menu, ranging from the reduction of salts, fats and sugars to the gradual inclusion of fresh fruits in the school menu, the latter being the only component that was missing in the School Meals Program.