Senator Sonny Angara has called for the passage of a bill that seeks to mandate the implementation of a comprehensive healthcare program that covers the nine months of pregnancy and a child’s first two years – or the first 1,000 days of human life.
“We call for support for the passage of bills that would promote and ensure children’s right to health, proper care and nutrition. Every Filipino child deserves a fair start in life that will enable them to reach their full potential,” said Angara, who is the principal author of Senate Bill 1537 or the Healthy Nanay and Bulilit Act, also known as the First 1,000 Days Act.
According to studies, a human being’s first 1,000 days – the period covering the nine months of a mother’s pregnancy and a child’s first two years – is the critical window particularly in preventing child stunting and wasting.
Studies further show that if a child’s nutrition is assured during this period, it would not only prevent one-third of child deaths per year, it would also improve school attainment thus increase wages and reduce poverty.
Based on the data by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, chronic malnutrition among Filipino children under 5 years old has increased to 33.5% in 2015 from 30.5% in 2013.
To address this, the First 1,000 Days health package involves proper nutrition for pregnant mothers, improved breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, protection against diseases, and proper feeding of children who are sick and undernourished.
It also provides for vaccinations, check ups, monitoring systems, and facilities such as breastfeeding stations and human milk banks.
“Such measure would boost maternal and child health and nutrition that would provide a pathway to good education and out of poverty, and cut child deaths in the country. Child deaths and malnutrition remain highest in the poorest sector of society. We should put an end to this,” the veteran legislator said.
Moreover, the Senate version of the first tax reform package, which the seasoned lawmaker sponsored as ways and means chairman, seeks to fund the expansion of school-based and community-based feeding programs for children in areas with high hunger incidence.