Closing data gaps in Peru support nutrition subsidies

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / MiroNovak
© Getty Images / MiroNovak

Related tags: subsidies, Peru

A new case study exploring data coverage in Peru highlights how integrating civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) with identity management systems improve access to nutrition rights and the implementation of better policies.

The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD) and the Centre of Excellence for Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems (CRVS Systems) have published a case study on Peru, entitled Compendium of Good Practices in Linking Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and Identity Management Systems – Peru​, to highlight good practices.

Data coverage and the SDGs

Detailing insights on how best to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — particularly target 16.9,  which strives to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration —  the case study emphasizes the importance of comprehensive data coverage to ensure the entire Peruvian population receives sufficient nutrition support and subsidies. 

Data gaps in registration “still remain”​, GPSDD and CRVS Systems notes in the report, especially in relation to the “most vulnerable segments of the population”​.

In a determined effort to close these gaps, Peru has identified and adopted measures to improve the services available to Indigenous communities, set inter-institutional alliances and cooperation, along with launching mobile registration units.

Nutrition subsidies: A case study

Improving access to nutrition subsidies and implementing better policies is a key example of how the digitization of records and data gathering are being used to benefit the delivery of nutrition services, as well as save time and money.

The National Registry of Identification and Civil Status (RENIEC) has made efforts to ensure more newborns get nutrition support, in time, by lowering the application process from two months to 72 hours. By managing nutrition subsidies in the country, the organization has also been able to reach 71% of eligible recipients within the first month, a figure that has almost doubled from 36%.

Public health insurance agency, EsSalud (Seguro Social de Salud), provides health coverage for 11 million workers in Peru. Enhancing the provision of nutrition subsidies in the country is realized through EsSalud’s subsidio de lactancia program, or nutrition subsidy. The program provides financial support on a one-time basis to help mothers of newborn children whose parents are insured workers.

Improving access to nutrition subsidies

However, EsSalud found that these available nutritional subsidies were not stretching to all eligible mothers. In addition, the mothers who were receiving the subsidy were not getting it in the first week of birth, which the program intended to provide.

Instead, to apply for the nutrition subsidy, mothers were required to visit an office not long after giving birth, complete an application form, partake in an evaluation and then wait for the final authorization to collect the funds from the back. Average figures revealed that the entire process took up to two months.

After signing an agreement with RENIEC in 2018, EsSalud was able to gain access to the institution’s database of live birth certificates registered in health facilities using the online platform. EsSalud has since been able to check the database on a daily basis, obtain the mothers’ identification information and complete the eligibility evaluation. Upon successful evaluation, the database system sends payment authorization to the National Bank to enable the mothers to collect their money.

By adopting a digital approach to the national nutrition subsidy program, mothers now receive their money in a total of 72 hours. Almost 60% of mothers and babies now have access to the nutrition subsidy in the first week, compared to 7% using the manual process, the report states. In total there has also been a 26% increase in mothers receiving the subsidy.

Identity, rights and better provisions

By integrating civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) with identity management systems, the authors reveal the country has found the “key to guaranteeing citizens’ access to rights and implementing better policies”.​ Overall, the duo reveals that actions have contributed to lowering “registration errors, promote inclusion, reduce under-registration​”, as well as support the achievement of the SDG target 16.9.

RENIEC, a constitutional body in Peru, has engaged in producing standard processes and guidelines, introducing digital technology, and digitizing civil registration and identification records. As a result, it has made strides towards a fully decentralized system by increasing the coverage of vital events registration, identifying citizens, and integrating CRVS and identity management systems.

Data exchange actions

Through the exchange of data, RENIEC has increased the collaboration efforts between public and private organizations in Peru, while achieving status as the country’s primary resource for identity authentication.

The RENIEC has prioritized several actions, including constitutional independence and autonomy; digitized records; information exchange between public and private sectors; integration strategies combined with information technology (IT); and online services at health facilities for birth and death certification and registration.

Online communication and data management

Throughout Peru, approximately 90% of health facilities are connected to the online system, EsSalud stated, which supports ongoing updates to the database to offer targeted nutrition services and benefits provision.

NutraIngredients-LATAM has reported how Peru is implementing a communication strategy ​to improve the nutrition status of its most vulnerable people by 2022; build partnerships throughout the country; as well as boost its ability to build resilience and work towards achieving the global SDGs.

Nutrition outlook in Peru

As the world strides closer to the 2030 SDGs, Peru has made positive leaps in nutrition and health. Peru is “well positioned to become one of the first countries to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2​ on ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition,” ​the World Food Programme highlighted.

A variety of factors including a broadening of social programs, ongoing economic growth and investments in infrastructure, education and health have helped to significantly lower hunger and poverty in Peru over the past ten years.

However, rates of chronic child malnutrition differ widely among regions, “reaching peaks as high as 33.4% in remote rural areas in the Sierra and Amazon regions”​, compared to the recorded 13.1% for the average figure for the overall country. Among indigenous people, particularly in the Amazon, stunting rates have failed to decrease in the past decade.

Data and digitalization is a determined effort to close these wide fluctuations between regions and offer all citizens the nutrition benefits and services they need.