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VILLAFUERTE: ENSURE NUTRITION OF WOMEN, CHILDREN

Camarines Sur Representative LRay Villafuerte has called for the full implementation of a 2018 law that expands state health and nutrition programs for women and children covering Day One of a mother’s pregnancy up to the child’s first two years, to help address disturbing data on hunger and malnutrition among “food poor” Filipinos. 

The first 1,000 days refers to the 270 days of a child inside the mother’s womb up to the time of his or her second birthday. 

“With this law, we can significantly reduce cases of malnutrition and, in the long run, end the cycle of malnourished women giving birth to malnourished daughters, who, in turn, grow up to become malnourished mothers themselves.”

Republic Act (RA) No. 11148 or “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act,” aims to ensure that a child gets the right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of development, which, in turn, will lead to lower healthcare costs for the country’s future governments, as children benefiting from this law will grow up to become healthier and more productive adults.

“If the law is fully and effectively implemented, we will not only address the perennial problem of hunger and malnutrition among our poor countrymen, we  can also be assured of future generations of Filipinos who can ably compete in the global economy because they are healthier and smarter,” said Villafuerte, who was among the principal authors of RA 11148. 

Villafuerte made the call in reaction to a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted from April 28 to May 2, which found 32 percent of respondents saying they are “food poor.” 

A United Nations (UN) report, on the other hand, said four million more Filipinos skipped meals as their food supplies ran out as of last year. 

The UN State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021, noted that 4.3 million or a million more Filipinos experienced severe food insecurity between 2018 and 2020. In 2014 and 2016, the number was at 3.3 million.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  moderate food insecurity is a state of uncertainty about the ability to get food; a risk of skipping meals or seeing food run out; being forced to compromise on the nutritional quality and/or quantity of food consumed. 

Severe food insecurity (means) running out of food; experienced hunger; at the most extreme, having to go without food for a day or more, FAO said. 

“If Filipinos are healthier, this would mean lower healthcare costs and more funds for the government to spend on other priority concerns such as education, healthcare, food security and infrastructure modernization.”

Villafuerte said the full implementation of RA 11148 will have a lasting positive impact on sustaining the country’s strong economic future as this will transcend generations of Filipinos who would grow up better equipped, both physically and mentally

“If Filipinos are healthier, this would mean lower healthcare costs and more funds for the government to spend on other priority concerns such as education, healthcare, food security and infrastructure modernization,” he said. 

Villafuerte said the law, once fully implemented, will help President Duterte’s vision of growing the Filipino middle class. 

“With this law, we can significantly reduce cases of malnutrition and, in the long run, end the cycle of malnourished women giving birth to malnourished daughters, who, in turn, grow up to become malnourished mothers themselves,” Villafuerte said. 

The law mandates the Departments of Health (DOH) and of Agriculture (DA) along with the National Nutrition Council (NNC), in coordination with other state agencies and local government units (LGUs), to formulate national nutrition policies, plans, strategies and approaches for the nutrition improvement, including, strategies on women, infant and young child, and adolescent nutrition.

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