Almost three out of 10 Filipinos aged five years old and below are stunted due to undernutrition, according to a report of the World Bank.
According to Raffy Tima’s report on “State of the Nation,” the Philippines is ranked fifth among countries in East Asia and the Pacific region with the highest prevalence of stunting, or being short for one's age.
The country, meanwhile, is among the top 10 countries around the world with the highest number of stunted children.
"Silent pandemic" is how the World Bank described this condition as it has stalked children for years.
“Mula pa nung 1980s, ganyan na ‘yung sitwasyon ng ating mga bata. Unti-unti namang bumababa pero napakabagal kumpara sa ating level of development,” Philippine Association of Nutrition president Dr. Cecilia Acuin said.
(It’s been this way since the 1980s. Though it’s decreasing, it is very slow compared to our level of development.)
“It’s almost embarrassing because with the level of our development our undernutrition is not supposed to be like this,” she added.
The World Bank said the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, MIMAROPA, Bicol, and Western Visayas recorded over 40% of stunting among children aged five and below.
“Akala ng mga tao, normal ang undernutrition kasi halos lahat o kalahati ng mga batang nakikita nila sa kanilang paligid ay may ganyang problema. So hindi nahahalata,” she said.
(People think it’s normal because that’s what they see usually. It’s not obvious that there’s a problem.)
Children that lack nutrition may fall behind in classes or easily get sick .
“Poor performance in school, as we all know, will lead to lower productivity as an adult. I think for the Philippines, it’s less than 15% ang kanilang nararating na potential nila dahil sa undernutrition lang,” she said.
The World Bank recommended for the government to fund programs addressing the nutrition of the youth.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said that though they have yet to see the report of the World Bank, programs to address malnutrition are continuous.—Joahna Lei Casilao/LDF, GMA News