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 The children of Colombia, a priority for the Ministry of Health and Social Protection

Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social > English > The children of Colombia, a priority for the Ministry of Health and Social Protection
Press release  


Four aspects are relevant to ensure Colombian children’s health, the main prevalences of which have to do with low birth weight, malnutrition and respiratory infections

Bogotá DC, April 26, 2014. To respond to the different health situations of Colombian children under the Ten-Year Public Health Plan, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection established four priorities for comprehensive health care: zero tolerance to mortality, morbidity and preventable disability; succeed in quality and humanization of comprehensive health care; highlight the family and community as determinants of health and strengthening of governance in health.

Ana Maria Peñuela, adviser on childhood at the Office of the Minister of Health, said that because integral development of children is the main purpose, the government has deployed the strategy of assistance, cooperation and local accompaniment (ACAT) to implement comprehensive health care for children. This process improves the individual, institutional and community capacities in the local arena, provinces, districts and municipalities to implement the comprehensive health care path.

She emphasized that, alongside this strategy, there have been advances in the design, implementation and sustainability of the Policy on Comprehensive Early Childhood Care, defined in the framework of the strategy of ‘from Zero to always’, where the most relevant aspects are program development for prevention and reduction of nutritional anemia which will help improve the development of Colombian children.”

She also said that the country has the most complete vaccination schedule of the Americas region protecting children under six years of age against 15 preventable diseases.

She also made special mention at the National Meeting on Children and Adolescents held in March and where the local technical health teams leading processes related to children were strengthened.

“The purpose of this meeting was to identify the challenges for the sector in this process of comprehensive health care for children through a process of working together based on the recognition of accumulated knowledge in order to guide the short and medium term management,” she said.

Situation of children in Colombia

  • The country has 5.1 million children aged 0 to 5 years.
  • In the last decade, child mortality has been reduced, resulting in a change from 20.4 deaths per 1,000 live births to 17.7. There are still cases of death in children under one year from causes related to respiratory disorders in the perinatal period; congenital malformations of respiratory system and perinatal period infections, especially in provinces such as Amazonas, Chocó and Vaupés show the highest infant mortality rates.
  • Registration has grown in the last five years, shifting from 3,485,892 children aged 0 to 5 registered in 2008, to 4,022,763 in 2013.
  • 28,142 children are registered with a disability related to disorders in the nervous system, voice and body movements (hands, arms, legs).
  • 591,567 children are victims of conflict, with displacement showing the highest number of victimizing cases.
  • 9% of children are born with low birth weight, most often affecting girls.
  • 13.2% of children under 5 showed chronic malnutrition and 3.4% present general malnutrition.
  • Mortality from acute diarrheal disease (ADD) also declined among infants in the country, from 33.8 deaths per 100,000 children under five years of age to 3.7 deaths. The same happens with the trend of acute respiratory infection (ARI), which varied from 35.3 to 15.9 deaths.


The C​hildren and Adolescents Group of the Department of Promotion and Prevention has also channeled efforts in seven key areas:

  • The development of a guide to comprehensive intersectoral approach in childhood for acute respiratory disease (ERA), which aims to strengthen the capacity of child caregivers so they can perform risk assessment and initial management of the IRA.
  • Decisively promoting the strengthening of regional capacities for comprehensive early childhood care with scientific associations and academia.
  • The development of intersectoral plan for prevention, care and surveillance of birth defects, with an emphasis on the redesign of the national strategy for prevention of neural tube defects starting from the process of investigation of adherence to food guidelines and fortification.
  • The promotion of a pilot of a child development assessment process aimed at different population groups in the country, in order to determine the relevance, feasibility and mechanisms to take this process to the national level under the guidelines of the Early Childhood Intersectoral Committee.
  • The design of an educational strategy in hospital pedagogy with early childhood in public hospitals in Antioquia, Valle del Cauca and Quibdó.
  • The analysis of sudden death syndrome through forensic diagnosis to establish how diagnosis will be performed in infants, as well as progress in the design of the safe sleep campaign.
  • The study on registration and access to health services in early childhood to identify barriers that may exist in the system.


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