ALMOST four million Filipino children are estimated to be suffering from malnutrition, according to the National Nutrition Council (NNC).
In a statement for the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition Framework for Action, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin said that there are 3.4 million children who are stunted and more than 300,000 children who are wasted.
“Malnutrition remains a significant public health concern in the Philippines,” said Garin.
“Stunting” refers to children being short for their age, while those “wasted” are those found underweight for their age.
“This continues to be a serious child health problem, with the Philippines being highly disaster-prone. The risk of malnutrition increases in the aftermath of emergencies,” added Garin.
Because of this, the DOH, NNC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nation Children’s Fund (Unicef) are pushing for the strict implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package for the First 1,000 Days (ECCD IP/1000).
To note, the first 1,000 days is recognized globally as the window of opportunity to intervene to prevent malnutrition starting from the whole nine months of pregnancy and until the child reaches his or her second birthday.
“Missing this window is a missed opportunity to ensure the full development of the child,” noted the DOH.
In particular, Garin said they aim to scale up nutrition actions, including promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding, management of acute malnutrition, and nutrition-sensitive interventions in agriculture, education, and social welfare, among others.
“The call for today is to muster all of these resources to create, strengthen, and sustain the political will to address malnutrition as a central concern of development,” said Garin. (HDT/Sunnex)