In his message to the Nation on Thursday 13 December, the president Martín Vizcarra said that one of the achievements so far of their management has been a significant reduction in anemia in children under age: “In march, when it started, my government, according to the INEI, the anemia, it reached 49% of children 6 to 36 months,” he said. “This negative scenario prompted us to implement concrete actions, because we cannot allow 5 out of 10 children to be affected by this evil. In the last quarter of this year, we have managed to decrease this value to 44.7%”. Ojopublic has verified that this claim is misleading.
To find out where the information indicated by the president came from, Ojopública first contacted the Ministry of Health. According to the ministry’s press office, the information available to Minsa is the same as that available to the presidency and has been provided by Inei. We were also told that although Inei publishes the final Annual Information figures in the so-called demographic and Family Health Survey (ENDES), there is quarterly data on internal consumption which, at the request of the ministry or the presidency, can be provided to these bodies.
According to the data of the last ENDES, published in may of 2018 and corresponding to the survey carried out in 2017, the prevalence of anemia in boys and girls between 6 and 35 months in Peru reaches 43.6%. This figure has not moved from the previous year, as can be seen from this table.
However, according to President Vizcarra, the figures he offered correspond to March 2018 (49%) and then to the last quarter of the year (44.7%).
To understand whether these figures were correct, Ojo Publico contacted INEI. There we spoke with Héctor Benavides, Deputy Technical Director of Demography and Social Indicators at the Institute. Benavides explained to us that although Inei publishes official figures in the ENDES once a year, it is common for different government agencies to request data when the survey has not yet been completed, to make decisions and report concrete actions. However, Benavides told us, ” that information is an internal matter, it is not usually made public because until the survey is finished it is incomplete calculations.”
The Demographic Survey and Family Health (ENDES) is a study that is done through interviews in more than 30 thousand homes across the country, what is done at different stages throughout the year. At the first half of the year, for example, “50% of the data” was available, Benavides said. This is why the information that can be obtained before the completion of the total study is considered incomplete.
In fact, in a communiqué issued by the Ministry of development in social inclusion on 16 December, the ministry’s General Office of Strategic Communication stated that “the Inei will give the final figures by the end of the year. The preliminaries for the second semester show positive progress.” However, as the INEI has well explained, These preliminary figures are not definitive because of the data that remains to be processed and therefore it cannot be conclusively said that anaemia has increased or decreased until the official ENDES 2018 figure is available.
Ojopública contacted the Office of communication of the presidency on several occasions in order to receive more information about the figures indicated by the president, but we did not get a reply.
In light of the revised, OjoPúblico has found that the claim that the president Vizcarra about the reduction of anemia during his mandate cannot be argued conclusively. Therefore, as expressed, it is misleading.