Monday, January 25, 2016

DOH Teams Up With WHO And UNICEF To Address Malnutrition In The Philippines

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The Department of Health (DOH), through the National Nutrition Council (NNC), in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) convenes for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Philippine Gathering (#SUNMOVEMENTPH) to bring key players from the government agencies, developmental partners, civil society groups, business sector and the academe to identify actions in addressing malnutrition.

The SUN movement calls on member countries, including the Philippines which is the 51st country to be accepted, to scale up nutrition actions including promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding, management of acute malnutrition, and nutrition-sensitive interventions in agriculture, education and social welfare among others.

Globally, close to half of deaths in children under 5 years old can be directly or indirectly linked to malnutrition. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 17 million children under age five in the world are severely malnourished and have at least 9x increased risk for death.

Malnutrition remains a significant public health concern in the Philippines with a staggering 3.4 million children who are stunted (short for their age) and more than 300,000 children under 5 years who are wasted (underweight for their age). This continues to be a serious child health problem, with the Philippines being highly disaster-prone. The risk of malnutrition increases in the aftermath of emergencies.

“We have a pool of committed and able human resources, more than 40 years of experience on nutrition action, technologies, and most especially solid evidence of what nutrition and related interventions work that are embodied in the 2nd International Conference on Nutrition Framework for Action. The call for today is to muster all of these resources to create, strengthen, and sustain the political will to address malnutrition as a central concern of development.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto Garin said.

This forum is also the venue to launch 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, DC.

According to Mr. Lawrence Haddad, international expert in nutrition and lead author of the 2015 Global Nutrition Report, the Philippines 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.

Mr. Haddad added that like many countries, the Philippines has seen slow reductions in malnutrition. If the Philippines and other countries want to achieve its commitment to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 as well as the World Health Assembly 2015 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.

This meeting also aims to organize 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 health and nutrition, early child education and social services. The first 1000 days is recognized as the window of opportunity to intervene to prevent malnutrition starting from the whole 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.

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 for 2017-2022.

“The DOH will continue its commitment to lead the NNC and the Philippine Multisectoral Platform for scaled up nutrition action, and to mobilize and rally other sectors, especially the national leadership of the current and coming administrations into the common nutrition arena.” Garin concluded.

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