Thousands of children, mothers in 3 provinces to get support within ‘first 1,000 days of life’

Published January 24, 2019, 7:16 PM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Betheena Unite

Thousands of vulnerable children and mothers in Samar, Northern Samar, and Zamboanga del Norte will receive nutrition and health aid within 1,000 days to combat malnutrition.

The “First 1,000 Days of Life” program was launched Thursday to benefit 40,000 children and 57,000 pregnant/lactating women in the three provinces.

The integrated nutrition and health program targets the first 1,000 days of life of the vulnerable children and mothers by providing them access to vital health and nutrition services.

It is an initiative of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and UN children’s agency UNICEF, in partnership with the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council.

“The Korean government fully supports the Philippine government in its goal of addressing malnutrition and achieving universal healthcare. By giving assistance to this project, the most vulnerable – mothers and children ages 0-5 years old – will be ensured access to vital health and nutrition services which will help them develop fully later in life,” Ambassador HAN Dong-Man, Korean envoy to the Philippines, said during the launch held in Mandaluyong.

A total of US$6 million was provided by the KOICA for the program, which is expected to reach 19 local government units in three provinces, officials said.

The project aims to establish a more responsive enabling policy environment at the national and local level that supports the comprehensive approach to maternal, infant and child nutrition and health in the critical first 1,000 days window.

It is also aimed at strengthening systems for the delivery of quality and comprehensive nutrition and health services for the first 1,000 days provided to women, newborns and children; and improve knowledge and practices of pregnant women, mothers and caregivers in the 19 project areas on maternal and child nutrition and health.

“We thank the Korean government for supporting the Filipino child’s right to survive and thrive. Supporting interventions at the local level is important to reach every vulnerable mother and child especially those who do not have access to essential services,” UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said.

A joint research by UNICEF Philippines and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) showed that every $1 (P53) invested in interventions to combat child malnutrition and accompanying problems can save around $12 (P639) in foregone earnings or health expenditures, which is equivalent to a 12:1 benefit-cost ratio.

The Kalusugan and Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, more commonly known as First 1000 Days Law, was approved in 2018 and paves the way for more concerted efforts by the national and local government, donors, and civil society.