Senator Sonny Angara filed a measure that will ensure appropriate health care program for mothers and their children in their first 1,000 days.
This developed as Angara urged his fellow senators to show their care for Filipino mothers by ensuring the smooth and prompt approval of the “First 1,000 Days Act” (SBN 136) bill that seeks the implementation of a comprehensive health care program to protect mothers and their children from malnutrition in their first 1,000 days.
Section 3 of the senator’s bill provides the establishment of a “First 1,000 Days Program” in every barangay by the Department of Health (DOH), in coordination with the Departments of Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare, and Development, and Science and Technology through the National Nutrition Council and Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
“The program will develop and implement a practical and comprehensive health care plan for pregnant and lactating women as well as provide health and nutrition for their children from 1 to 1,000 days,” the legislator said.
The lawmaker, who also authored the “Expanded Maternity Leave Benefits Act,” stressed that “womb-to-crib” measures boost maternal and child health, cuts child deaths, improves nutrition, and provides a pathway to good education and out of poverty.
Under his bill, a child’s first 1,000 days, the period covering the 9 months of a mother’s pregnancy and her child’s first two years- has been dubbed a ‘window of opportunity.’ This period is extremely crucial to a child’s fair start in life.”
The “First 1,000 Days Program” interventions are ensuring nutrition to pregnant mothers and adolescent girls, improved breastfeeding practices (0-6 months), improved complementary feeding practices (7-24 months), improved protection against undernutrition and disease (6-24 months), and improved feeding of children who are sick and undernourished.
Included in the said program, among others, are vaccinations and nutritional supplements for infants to be provided by the DOH, check-ups, pre-natal and ante-natal counselling by local government units, and public information drive on breastfeeding and proper hygiene to be done in schools and barangay health centers.
To implement these, the senator wants the government to train and tap barangay health personnel and other community health professionals.
A policy brief in 2015 by the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) said getting proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days is crucial for physical growth of children, a pathway out of poverty for poor households, and a driver of growth for countries.
The PLCPD also said that proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days prevents more than one-third of child deaths per year, improves school attainment by at least one year, increases wages by 5 to 50 percent, reduces poverty because well-nourished children are 33 percent more likely to escape poverty as adults, and empowers women to be 10 percent more likely to run their own business and break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.
“The ‘First 1,000 Days Program’ under this proposed measure lays the proper foundation for the country’s future growth and development,” he said.
Angara, who authored the Magna Carta of Women when he was a congressman of the lone district of Aurora, is an active member of the PLCPD.