Senator Risa Hontiveros is calling on the government to invest more in nourishing Filipino children during their first 1000 days of life, especially amid the pandemic.
Hontiveros says focusing more resources on the “crucial nutritional window” is an opportunity to end intergenerational malnutrition and undernutrition.
According to a World Bank study, for every $1 invested in nutrition specific interventions, this could lead to a potential return of $44.
“Investing on a child’s first 1000 days is actually a life-long investment. Kahit nasa sinapupunan pa lang ni mommy, nagsisimula nang mabuo ang kinabukasan ng isang baby,” the veteran legislator said.
“Kapag well-nourished ang bata sa unang 1000 araw, mas mababa ang risk niya sa pagkakasakit.”
“Kapag well-nourished ang bata sa unang 1000 araw, mas mababa ang risk niya sa pagkakasakit. Kapag malusog ang sanggol, paglaki nya, mas mataas ang nararating nya sa pag-aaral, at, kalaunan, mas mataas ang sweldo kapag nagtatrabaho na,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.
The statement comes in time for Nutrition Month, which has the national theme, “Malnutrisyon Patuloy na Labanan, First 1000 Days Tutukan!”.
The lady senator sponsored and co-authored Republic Act 11148 or the ‘Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act’, which emphasizes the importance of proper nutrition during the first two years of a child’s life.
The National Nutrition Council (NNC) estimates that at least 30.3% of kids below five years old are stunted or small for their age, which translates to 3.4 million children who have chronic or recurrent undernutrition.
She, however, laments that the NNC, which is the country’s primary policy-making and coordinating body on nutrition, was given only P488 million in the 2021 budget.
While this is higher than the P461M allotted in 2019, the amount is still insufficient for the nutrition programs needed to stamp out malnutrition and undernutrition in the country.
“We cannot continue missing the unique window of opportunity presented to us.”
“Recently, the World Bank put the Philippines on notice, dahil, for nearly 30 years, patuloy pa ring nasasadlak ang mga bata sa gutom at paghihirap. Naipapasa tuloy nila ang undernutrition sa mga susunod na henerasyon. This is why we cannot continue missing the unique window of opportunity presented to us by the first 1000 days of a child’s life,” Hontiveros said.
A 2017 report from UNICEF had previously estimated that the total cost to the Philippine economy brought by childhood undernutrition was around $1.4B or 1.5% of the country’s GDP.
She then called on all government agencies to protect a child’s right to nutrition, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, the country ranks fifth in the region with the highest prevalence of stunting and is among the top 10 countries globally with the highest number of stunted children, according to UNICEF.
“Dapat siguraduhin ng DOH at DSWD na nai-implement ang maternal health, nutrition, at social welfare programs sa ilalim ng batas. The magnitude of future social and economic losses because of undernutrition should be enough reason for the government to start spending more on our children’s nutrition in the first 1000 days. Hindi naibabalik ang panahon,” Hontiveros concluded.