Gatchalian bats for health, nutrition interventions for mothers and infants as PH expects increase in 'lockdown babies'

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian on Wednesday reiterated the urgency of providing health and nutrition interventions for vulnerable infants and mothers, especially those in far-flung and poverty-stricken areas.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM)  said it expects the number of  "lockdown babies" to peak in the first half of 2021.

Gatchalian said these interventions and programs are provided for under the "Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act" (Republic Act 11148),  the "First 1,000 Days Law,’’ which aims to scale up nutrition intervention programs in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception up to the second birthday. The law gives priority to those who are living in unserved and underserved communities.

Under the 2021 P4.5 trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA), the Department of Health (DOH) has allotted P100 million for the complementary feeding program of pregnant women and children aged zero to 24 months.

This allocation covers dietary supplementation, the purchase of therapeutic milk and other protein-enriched foods to improve the nutritional status of mothers and infants.

Local government units (LGUs) with the highest prevalence of undernutrition and nutrition deficiency among pregnant and lactating mothers and children aged zero to two years old will be prioritized for this program.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said that poor nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life could lead to stunting or impaired growth and development, which is linked to poor educational performance and poor productivity. It is also linked to nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life when accompanied by excessive weight gain.

According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, 30.3 percent of Filipino children under five are still affected by stunting.

According to the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2.5 million unplanned pregnancies are expected to be recorded by the end of 2020.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Basic Education Committee,  emphasized the importance of appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents in the formal and non-formal systems of education, which is mandated by the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act 10354).

This will help curb teenage pregnancies nationwide, he said.