Press Release
February 22, 2011

Legarda Wants Swift Passage of Nutrition Bills to Address Undernourishment among Filipino Children

Senator Loren Legarda today pressed for the immediate passage of proposed measures that seek to address the problem of hunger and malnutrition among children, noting that more than half of Filipino children are undernourished.

Based on the Seventh National Nutrition Survey initiated by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), about 3.35 million children ages 0-5 years old are underweight, 3.57 million are stunted, and 780,000 are classified as thin.

Moreover, 55.7% of children ages six months to less than one year old and 20.9% of children ages 1-5 years old, suffer from nutritional anemia.

"As early as the time of their birth, many Filipino children already suffer from nutritional problems and it goes on until their early school years, which usually cause absenteeism or dropping out of school," Legarda explained.

"These concerns must be addressed through a sustained nutritional program for pregnant women, newborn babies, toddlers and children in school age. A string of proposed laws on child nutrition is pending in the Senate, and we want to ensure that these bills are approved immediately," she added.

The nutrition bills filed by Legarda include SB 1347, Health Food for Poor Children Program; SB 1391, Milk Feeding Act; SB 2561, Child Nutrition Law; and SB 2627, Breastfeeding Promotion Act.

The Health for Poor Children Program calls for a concerted effort by the Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Social Welfare and Development to conduct feeding programs that would provide poor children and pregnant women nutritious food in the form of fruits, vegetables and other healthy food products.

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act seeks to establish a strong campaign to promote breastfeeding and inform citizens on the advantages and superiority of breastfeeding, maternal nutrition and the proper use of infant formula; while the Milk Feeding Act proposes the distribution of locally-produced fresh milk for direct intake of children ages 5-10 years old.

Meanwhile, the Child Nutrition Law aims to create a system-wide plan to implement a nutrition and health program for children in public schools and barangay day care centers, consisting of a complementary feeding program.

"Malnutrition is highly preventable. We just have to support the basic food and nutritional needs of our citizens, especially the underprivileged children. Through the passage, and the eventual implementation, of these proposed measures, we do not only address hunger and undernourishment, but also teach our people that being healthy is not costly because the essential nutritional needs of our children are contained in economical products such as breast milk, and fruits and vegetables which can easily be planted in backyards and vacant spaces," the Senator said. "We also have to remember that our success in addressing undernutrition is essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which the Philippines is working to achieve by 2015," Legarda concluded.

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