Chile Fund facilitates nutritional health cooperation for children in Jamaica and Guyana

 With the technical assistance of the Chilean Health Ministry (MINSAL) and FAO, this project financed by the Chile Fund against Hunger and Poverty seeks to implement a strategy of education in food and nutrition for the first 1,000 days of life of children in these Caribbean countries, inspired by the experience in Chile. Health authorities from Guyana and Jamaica visit Chile to learn about its nutritional vigilance policies.

Santiago de Chile.-

With the technical assistance of the Chilean Health Ministry (MINSAL) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty — an initiative of the Chilean Government represented by Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AGCID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Chile — is promoting exchange of good practices in early education in food and nutrition with the Health Ministries of Jamaica and Guyana.

Health delegations from the two Caribbean countries visted Chile during 7, 8 and 9 October to learn about the Chilean educational model for feeding in the critical first 1,000 days of life and to exchange experiences and knowledge on the subject of nutrition. During the technical visit to Santiago, the health delegations from Jamaica and Guyana investigated the development of strategies for nutrition policies, learnt about the FAO’s South South Cooperation Project and visited the Chilean Health Ministry. They also visited Family Health Centres (CESFAM) in the Metropolitan Region to see how the nutrition and food strategy is implemented in primary health care.

Opening Day

During the first day of activities, representatives of agencies in the United Nations system and the Chilean Government shared experiences with the delegations from Guyana and Jamaica.

The first authority to speak was Eve Crowley, Deputy Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean and FAO Representative in Chile, who welcomed the committee, saying that “it is important to learn about the experiences of international agencies which are facing challenges similar to our own,” while on South South Cooperation she stressed that “the trend is to go in the direction of different forms of human and financial cooperation.”

“You have come to Chile to learn, but also to teach,” said Antonio Molpeceres, UNDP Resident Representative in Chile and Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Chile, adding that South South Cooperation is a priority for UNDP Chile.
Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo was represented by Marco Fernández, Executive Secretary of the Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty, who said that “Latin America is the axis of Chilean Cooperation for Development Agency, but we do not stop there; we also place a lot of emphasis on the Caribbean,” adding that “our cooperation supports projects which are both economically and institutionally sustainable.”

Representatives of the two guest countries and the Chilean Health Ministry each gave a talk on the different approach taken in their own countries, allowing them to make a general assessment of the initiative.

“What we are hoping to get from this association with Chile is understanding of how to run all the different parts of the process together: the technical, the clinical and the administrative. This represents a series of challenges. We are interested in seeing how Chile deals with all these aspects at the same time and makes them work,” said the Director of the Nutrition Unit of the Jamaican Health Ministry, Sharmaine Edwards; while for the Guyanese delegation Trevor Thomas, the country’s Deputy Permanent Health Secretary, stated that “Our government is very strongly committed to increasing South South Cooperation and exchanging experiences in nutrition-related subjects.”

Finally, Lorena Rodríguez, Head of the Food and Nutrition Department of the Chilean Health Ministry, noted that “it is important for them to see the work done in Chile in this field, and we view this as an opportunity for mutual exchange.” She mentioned the differences between the types of malnutrition affecting the different countries, noting that in recent decades Chile has started to record high levels of child obesity.

The first day ended with a formal visit by the team to the Chilean Health Ministry.

Second Day

The delegations, accompanied by representatives of FAO and the Chile Fund Against Hunger and Poverty, visited Family Health Centres (CESFAM) in the districts of Puente Alto and Pudahuel, where they saw how public health policies were put into practice on the ground, and also learnt about various continuous nutrition, breast-feeding and nutritional coordination programmes.

Closing day

The conclusions and planned steps on this issue were reported last Friday morning in the FAO Chile offices. Discussions were also held on possible approaches to strengthening capabilities in Guyana and Jamaica, with the continuing support of AGCID and FAO.