Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday sponsored at the Senate plenary Committee Report No. 145 or the Healthy Bulilit Act, which aims to scale up nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life, and to establish a maternal and child health care program throughout the country.
Hontiveros said that despite global efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition, undernutrition remains to be among the leading cause of death of children with more than 2.6 million deaths annually.
The senator, who is the Vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Health, cited numerous studies showing that poor nutrition makes children vulnerable to common diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria. These studies confirm that early years of life are the crucial period of mental and physical development; malnutrition at this critical junction creates irreversible damage to children.
"The effects of undernourishment during the first 1000 days do not stop at childhood, and unfortunately, the children suffer from this damage even when they become adults. Stunting or the failure to grow to proper height has been shown to be associated with greater risk for disease, poor health, poor school performance, poor productivity and lower earning capacity as adults. Malnutrition is the agent by which poverty viciously perpetuates itself," Hontiveros explained.
The Senator also pointed out that undernourished mothers are more likely to suffer difficult pregnancies and give birth to undernourished children themselves. They are also vulnerable to increased risk of death or giving birth to a pre-term, underweight or malnourished infant. "Poor nutrition harms our children, our mothers, our nation. It can impede economic growth and it can extend the cycle of poverty," she said.
Hontiveros highlighted that investment in good nutrition during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to a child's second birthday is crucial to developing a child's cognitive capacity and physical growth.
"The need to scale up nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life, and ensure that the fight against malnutrition must be a priority of both the national and the local government," Hontiveros said.
"Let us ensure that we have healthy nanays to give birth to healthy bulilits who, in turn, will grow up to become healthy Pinoys and Pinays," Hontiveros added.
Source: Senate of the Philippines