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World Bank OKs $178.1-M loan to combat Philippine malnutrition

The World Bank on Thursday announced the approval of a $178.1-million loan which will assist the Philippines in delivering nutrition-specific interventions to combat malnutrition.

The loan—approved by the Board of Executive Directors—will be part of the Philippines Multisectoral Nutrition Project, which seeks to provide nutrition and health care services at the primary care and community levels in 235 municipalities across the country.

It will also cover social behavior change and communications interventions, infant and young feeding, regular growth monitoring, micronutrient supplements, and dietary supplementation to households with pregnant women and children under two years, among others.

The project will also provide performance-based grants to local government units based on their delivery of pre-defined nutrition, maternal, and child services, and improvement in budgeting.

It also seeks to address behavioral change to adopt several adjustments such as hand washing with soap, improved sanitation, access to safe drinking water, early child-care and development, nutrition-focused child-care, and promoting access to Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

“The persistence of high levels of childhoods undernutrition in the Philippines, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, could lead to a significant increase in inequality of opportunities in the country,” World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Ndiamé Diop said in a statement.

“Where healthy children can do well in school and look forward to a prosperous future, stunted children tend to be sickly, learn less, more likely to drop out of school and their economic productivity as adults can be clipped by more than 10% in their lifetime,” he continued.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that some 23.7% or 26.14 million Filipinos lived with income insufficient to meet their basic food and non-food needs in the first semester of last year.

“Hence, improving the nutritional status of children is key to the country’s goals of boosting human capital while strengthening the country’s economic recovery and prospects for long-term growth,” said Diop.—AOL, GMA News