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Monday, January 25, 2016

Philippines Status in Nutrition Revealed in Global Report, Stakeholders Convened to Rev Up Efforts

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It was both good and bad news for the Philippines as the status of addressing malnutrition in the world was reported in a forum held on 25-26 January 2016 convened by the National Nutrition Council (NNC), Department of Health and UNICEF Philippines

The forum launched the “2015 Global Nutrition Report: Actions and Accountability to Advance Nutrition and Sustainable Development” which was prepared by the Independent Expert Group of international experts and published by the International Food Policy Research Institute based in Washington, D. C..

Dr. Lawrence Haddad, noted international expert in nutrition and lead author of the 2015 Global Nutrition Report, presented the highlights of the report that reviewed the status of 193 countries. In the report, the Philippines score was considered “on course” in meeting targets to reduce child stunting and overweight. On the other hand, the Philippines is “off course” for child wasting and anemia.

Like many countries, the Philippines has seen slow reductions in malnutrition. Dr. Haddad went on to say that if the Philippines and other countries want to achieve their commitment to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 as well as the World Health Assembly 2025 Global Targets, countries have to end all forms of malnutrition by scaling up proven nutrition interventions and by committing and investing in nutrition as well as holding nutrition stakeholders accountable. Haddad further stressed that “Ending malnutrition will drive sustainable development forward.”

The forum was also the venue for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Philippine Gathering (#SUNMovementPH) to bring together key players from the government sector, development partners, civil society, business sector, academe and media to identify actions to address malnutrition. The engagement of various sectors toward a common frame of action, while long ingrained in nutrition action in the Philippines, is also one of the features of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement. The SUN movement calls on member countries, including the Philippines which is the 51st country to be accepted, to scale up nutrition actions along proven effective actions include promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding, management of acute malnutrition, and nutrition-sensitive interventions in agriculture, education and social welfare sectors, among others.

A third agenda in the meeting is convening implementers of the Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package for the First 1000 Days (ECCD IP/1000), a priority project of the government starting 2016 to address stunting by focusing on maternal and young child nutrition, health, early child education and social services. The first 1000 days is recognized as the window of opportunity to intervene to prevent malnutrition starting from 9 months of pregnancy and until the child reaches his or her second birthday. Missing this window is a missed opportunity to ensure the full development of the child.

Stakeholders discussed technical and operational arrangements for implementing the integrated program in 10 priority provinces of the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016, i.e. Pangasinan, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur and Sulu. These provinces were selected based on the magnitude of poverty and the potential to spur economic growth in the locality.

Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita T. Flores said “One of the call to action for our incoming national leadership is to put nutrition as a priority agenda. For our country to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, there is need for more investments in nutrition to be able to scale up interventions and speed up the Philippine progress to ending malnutrition.”

The National Nutrition Council being the policy-making and coordinating body on nutrition will make use of the recommendations from the forum for the formulation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022.

Health Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako delivered the keynote message of Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin. UNICEF Philippines Country Representative Lotta Sylwander gave her message as well.

The two-day gathering was held on 25-26 January 2016 at the Bayview Park Hotel, Manila. More than a hundred participants attended.

Photo caption: Global Nutrition Report for 2015 launched in the Philippines by (L-R) Ms. Kathrine Yee, PhilCAN Advocacy Manager; Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita T. Flores, UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander, Undersecretary of Health Nemesio T. Gako, Dr. Lawrence Haddad, one of the lead authors from the International Food Policy Research Institute, FNRI Director Mario V. Capanzana, CODHEND Chair Ms. Cristina Sagum, and Ms. Veron Catrisse de los Reyes from the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers (PCFM)

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