LGUs urged to step up malnutrition intervention

LGUs urged to step up malnutrition intervention
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WITH stunting being the top malnutrition problem in Central Visayas in 2023, the National Nutrition Council (NNC 7) urged local government units (LGUs) to step up intervention against malnutrition.

Dr. Parolita Mission, NNC 7 Nutrition Program coordinator, said in a statement on Thursday, April 11, 2024, that LGUs have to invest in solutions and interventions against all forms of malnutrition.

"Focused on the First 1000 Days of a child’s life from pre-pregnancy to two years of age as an effective strategy against stunting in children," Parolita said.

Data from the NNC 7 showed that the agency recorded a decline in the prevalence of malnutrition in all its forms -- stunted, wasted, underweight, and overweight -- in 2023 after the annual Operation Timbang Plus (OPT Plus) results.

The results showed a decrease in malnutrition prevalence for stunting, from 8.5 percent in 2022 to 7.2 percent in 2023; for wasting, from 2.2 percent to 1.4 percent; for underweight, from 3.6 percent to 3.2 percent; and for overweight, from 2.8 percent to 2.1 percent.

However, stunting or low height-for-age after OPT Plus result was still the highest among the forms of malnutrition, the NNC 7 said.

In Negros Oriental, there was a prevalence rate of 4.7 percent or 5,538 children; Cebu has 3.5 percent or 9,725 children; Siquijor has 3.11 percent or 179 children); and Bohol has 2.2 percent or 2,165 children.

According to the World Health Organization, stunting happens as “a result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition, usually associated with poverty, poor maternal health and nutrition, frequent illness and/or inappropriate feeding and care in early life.”

WHO added that stunting prevents children from reaching their physical and cognitive potential.

Other factors leading to the decrease in the prevalence since the pandemic in 2020 was the decrease in OPT coverage from 82.4 percent to 78.8 percent, said the NNC 7.

The OPT Plus determines the nutritional status of children in a barangay, locates under- or over-nourished children, and guides LGUs in nutrition program management.

The interventions include (a) supplementary feeding and micronutrient supplementation of pregnant women, (b) promotion and supporting breastfeeding, (c) and regular growth monitoring of weight and height.

These interventions are under the 2023–2028 Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), a guide for LGUs' commitment in addressing nutrition and food security challenges in the country. (EHP)


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