Monday, August 03, 2015



AAMBIS-Owa Party-list Representative Sharon S. Garin files a bill which aims to promote exclusive breast-feeding to decrease the number of stunted and wasted children and improve the welfare of pregnant and lactating mothers in the Philippines.

Exclusive breast-feeding or feeding without food, water, or milk substitutes during the first 6 months of infants plays an important role in improving the physical and mental welfare of the children as they grow up.

An advocate of children and food security, Garin filed House Bill 5914 entitled “The First 1000 Days Program.” The measure, if enacted, will institutionalize the care for every Filipino child, especially during the 1,000 day-window, from conception to the child’s second birthday backed up by the latest study from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

“I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this measure and undertake a comprehensive review of the country’s nutrition policies and programs immediately. This is an urgent matter. The statistics showing the increasing number of undernourished children is disturbing!” Garin pointed out.

Garin attended the 132nd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly held in Hanoi, Vietnam, where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed to Asian lawmakers that a child’s growth will be stunted irreversibly if it fails to get proper nourishment and care during the first 1,000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday.

UNICEF noted in 2012 that there are at least 162 million stunted children globally.

HB 5914 states that “The First 1000 Days Program” shall be divided into three (3) stages:  Pregnancy until birth, 1st day to 6 months, and 6 months to 2 years.

If HB 5914 becomes a law, nutritional supplements shall be provided free by the Department of Health (DOH) for children age 0 to 2 years old and pregnant and lactating mothers; regular check-ups during and after pregnancy shall be mandated and administered by Barangay Health Centers. Necessary vaccinations shall be given to infants for free.

Aggressive public information drive about the free health services offered by the government and the importance of proper nutrition during the pre-natal and post-natal stages shall be executed once the bill becomes a law.

A National Monitoring System shall be implemented by the DOH together with the National Nutrition Council (NNC) on the overall status of infants and their mothers and to know the success and areas of improvement of the program.

The UNICEF said under-nutrition is caused by a lack of adequate nutritious food, poor care, and feeding practices and limited access to health and sanitation, especially during the first 1,000 days. Such leads to stunted growth (height for age) and impaired cognitive development.

UNICEF warns legislators as this poses 20 to 25 percent reduction in income for adults which would result to a 2 to 3 percent loss of the gross domestic product for nations if the problem of under nutrition continues to persist.

A 2012 UNICEF study further said that there are about 44 million children under age 5 in developing countries who are overweight and at risk of chronic illnesses, like diabetes. Some 50 percent of the children in the world with stunted growth live in Asia. /MP

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