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DOH: 29.5% of Filipino kids under 5 stunted

The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday reported at least 29.5% of Filipino children under 5 years old are stunted.

“29.5% of Filipino children under 5 are stunted. Our issues with nutrition go beyond access to food, these are affected by interplay of various factors such as health education, livelihood, social welfare, and governance,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the launch of the Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP).

“We are also aware of the intergenerational effect of malnutrition,” she added.

Vergeire said communities without proper access to food, education, and livelihood cannot house “healthy citizens.”

“Ang mga magulang na hindi nakakatanggap ng sapat na sustansya ay wala rin maisusustentong sapat na pagkain para sa kanilang mga anak. Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng ating bayan, ‘yan ang lagi nating sinasambit ngunit ang ating mga kabataan ngayon ay bansot at kulang sa timbang. Itong mga kabataang din ito ang kalaunang magpapatakbo ng ating ekonomiya,” she said.

(Parents who do not receive enough nutrients will also not be able to provide enough food for their children. Youth is the hope of our nation, that's what we always say but our youth today are stunted and underweight. These young people will eventually run our economy.)

The DOH OIC said an estimated 5% of the global gross domestic product was lost due to reduced productivity and direct healthcare costs related to malnutrition in 2014.

“The United Nations World Food program estimates that the Philippine economy alone faces about 4.5 billion US dollar losses without collaborative action, the future of the Philippines remains stunted,” she added.

Vergeire earlier said at least  21.6% of children aged zero to 23 months old nationwide are stunted, while around 12.3% children are underweight.

The Health official said the launch of the PMNP offers a "new beginning for innovations” to be integrated with established strategies.

She said the project is a collective effort of government agencies to shape programs and cater the needs of the Filipino mothers and children.

“From previous feeding programs and nutrient provisions services, we are now expanding our approach to cover disparities in other sectors affecting nutrition. With the further fortification of our plans we can ensure the sustainability of our systems and community investments for this three year project lifecycle of the PMNP,” she added.

In a separate interview, Vergeire said the project, which has an estimated cost of P10 billion, will be funded by the World Bank.

The PMNP will support the government in adopting a bold, multisectoral nutrition approach to deliver a coordinated package of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions across various local government unit platforms.

The project also aims to achieve key impacts on the health and nutrition of children. It will be implemented in 235 local government units across the country.

Vergeire added that localities could receive performance-based grants once they reach the targeted outcome set by the government.—AOL, GMA Integrated News