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El Salvador will lower childhood anemia rate

Bank loan will support the production of micronutrient powder for public and private programs in Central America

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will help to reduce the rate of anemia in children under age five in El Salvador and other Central American countries with a loan of US$1.1 million approved today. The program seeks to increase the capacity of the pharmaceutical establishment Ancalmo S.A. de C.V. to produce micronutrients.

Micronutrient deficiency is a form of malnutrition caused by lack of vitamins, iron, and zinc that are essential for health, growth, and development. In El Salvador, the anemia rate for children under five is 18.4 percent for the nation as a whole, 25 percent for rural areas, and 27 percent for poorest one-fifth of the population.

The project will help Ancalmo modernize and improve its production capacity of micronutrient powder under the supervision of the Global Initiative for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Ancalmo exports 46 percent of its production to Central America, Mexico, and the United States. The modernization project will help spur the local production of micronutrient powder and make distribution more efficient in the region.

The loan to Ancalmo, which is part of the IDB’s Opportunities for the Majority Initiative, will support El Salvador’s efforts to reduce anemia in preschool children. The Opportunities for the Majority Initiative promotes market-based sustainable business models in which private companies, governments, and local communities provide quality products and services designed to improve the quality of life of low-income people.

This loan will be accompanied by a technical cooperation grant to incorporate the Salvadoran Foundation for Health and Human Development’s “Pounds of Love” program into the micronutrient project. The foundation’s program has served 65,000 people in western El Salvador since 2004.

The IDB loan has a term of up to five years and a grace period of one year.