Monday, January 25, 2016

DOH, UNICEF Urge More Investment On Child Nutrition; Combat Stunting

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The Department of Health, UNICEF and the National Nutrition Council led the Philippine launch of the 2015 Global Nutrition Report (GNR), a comprehensive scorecard of both global and country-level progress on nutrition; as well as vital global determinants like food security, water and sanitation, resource allocations, and institutional and policy reforms.

The 2015 Global Nutrition Report: Actions and Accountability to Advance Nutrition and Sustainable Development was prepared by the Independent Expert Group of international experts, published by the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. Dr. Lawrence Haddad, international expert in nutrition and the Report’s lead author, presented highlights on the status of 193 countries.

The report shows the Philippine score was considered “on course” in meeting the targets to reduce child stunting and overweight; while it is “off course” for child wasting and anemia.

While the country has seen slow reductions in malnutrition, Dr. Haddad said that if the Philippines and other countries want to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the World Health Assembly 2025 Global Targets, there must scaling up of proven nutrition interventions and investment; and hold nutrition stakeholders accountable, including the government and the private sector.

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

“Every child’s right to best start in life, adequate growth and development is non-negotiable, which is only possible when we can ensure proper nutrition and care practices for every child. As a matter of priority, we need to get 3.4 million Filipino children out of the clutches of undernutrition. This will require the government, civil society, UN agencies, academe, businesses and citizens of the Philippines come together for collective and concerted action to end under-nutrition,” said Lotta Sylwander, UNICEF Philippines Representative and chair of the UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Network in the country.

The SUN movement calls on member countries, including the Philippines, to scale up nutrition along proven and effective actions; and include promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding, management of acute malnutrition, and nutrition-sensitive interventions in agriculture, education and social welfare sectors. This approach is believed to be a driver for growth that also creates a pathway out of poverty for many children in poor households.

The forum brought together key players from the government, development partners, civil society, the private sector, academe and the media to identify actions to address malnutrition in the framework of the SUN Philippine Gathering (#SUNMovementPH).

Finally, the meeting convened implementers of the Early Childhood Care and Development Intervention Package for the First 1,000 Days, 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.

Stakeholders discussed technical and operational arrangements to implement integrated programmes in 10 priority provinces of the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016: Pangasinan, Quezon, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur and Sulu. These provinces were selected based on poverty incidences and potentials for local economic growth.

Health Undersecretary Nemesio T. Gako delivered the message of Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin who is also the Chair of the NNC Governing Board. Also present at the forum-launch event were National Economic Planning Secretary and NNC Governing Board Member Arsenio Balisacan; and Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) Director and NNC Technical Committee Chair Dr. Mario Capanzana.

With NNC being the policy-making and coordinating body on nutrition, the DOH will make use of the recommendations from the forum and the GNR to formulate the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022.

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