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MAP launches campaign vs. malnutrition, warns of impact on workforce

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) on Wednesday launched a campaign against malnutrition and stunting among Filipino children as it warned of their effects on the country’s workforce in the future.

At a press conference in Taguig City, MAP governor-in-charge for resilience and recovery cluster Cielito Habito said children malnutrition and stunting can be compared to climate change as its “full impact manifests many years after.”

“In this case, it will show in the quality of our workforce, our people,” Habito said.

MAP president Benedicta Du-Baladad, likewise, said that today’s malnourished and stunted children “affect our business in the future.”

“Because if everybody is stunted… What is the quality of the workforce we will get?” Du-Baladad asked.

“We are acting now to prevent something from happening in the future,” she added.

Habito said addressing the problem is also in preparation for equipping the future workforce in the fourth industrial revolution —the age of artificial intelligence and automation.

“If we are ill-equipped, even if we have the numbers in terms of workforce, to take on the kind of work demanded by the fourth industrial revolution, what will happen to us?“ the economist said.

With this, Du-Baladad said MAP is launching a campaign to address the problem. She said the campaign anchors on three main tracks, namely to “educate, encourage, and engage.”

The MAP chief said that under the “educate” track the group will be conducting information on the effects of childhood stunting and malnutrition among mothers and families.

The group will also “encourage” the private sector to include in their corporate social responsibility programs direct initiatives such as feeding programs and skills building.

Under the “engage” track, Du-Baladad said the MAP will be “pushing for policy reforms and legislations that will holistically address malnutrition and child stunting and will also help create longer-term solutions to embed nutrition as a continuing agenda for national development.”

“That is why we are heartened by the call of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. for lawmakers to support the national effort to end malnutrition when he launched a World Bank-funded nutrition program that will be rolled out in over 200 towns nationwide. It is a much-needed shot in the arm,” she said.

“We can complement the Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) initiatives through the programs and activities that are in our pipeline,” she added.

Late last month, Marcos led the launching of the PMNP as he called on lawmakers to “enshrine” into law policies that will help address malnutrition in the country.

The PMNP is a P10-billion project funded by the World Bank, which will support the government in adopting a bold, multi-sectoral nutrition approach to deliver a coordinated package of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions across various local government unit platforms

The World Bank said the Philippines has one of the worst cases of child stunting in the world, ranking fifth with the highest stunting prevalence among countries in the East Asia and Pacific Region, and is among the 10 worst countries in the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes stunting as a growth and development impairment of children resulting from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.

“We should be worried”, said Du-Baladad, adding that if the problem is not addressed urgently and decisively "we will be placing our country’s future in the hands of stunted children becoming adults whose capacity to be productive, competitive, and creative are limited, thus affecting national development and progress.” —NB, GMA Integrated News