COTABATO CITY – A group of lawmakers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has pushed for the creation of the Bangsamoro Nutrition Council (BNC) to address the high prevalence of malnutrition in the region.
Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) – BARMM Member of Parliament (MP) Amilbahar Mawallil, the principal author of the proposal, has filed Parliament Bill 130, which seeks to create the BNC.
Under the proposed measure, it will be attached to the Ministry of Health – BARMM and serve as the primary agency for nutrition concerns during natural and man-made calamities.
“It is vital therefore to institutionalize mechanisms, such as preventive health care and proper nutrition, to address these problems,” Mawallil said in a statement Wednesday.
Citing the findings of the 8th National Nutrition Survey, Mawallil said the region has the second-highest undernutrition prevalence for stunting at 39 percent; the second-highest chronic energy deficiency rate at 13.2 percent; the third-highest prevalence of anemia among the elderly at 26.6 percent; and the fifth-highest prevalence of adult current smokers at 28 percent.
Co-authors of the regional bill are MPs Laisa Alamia, Rasol Mitmug Jr., Suharto Ambolodto, Baintan Ampatuan, Don Mustapha Loong, Abraham Burahan, and Sittie Shahara Mastura.
“Food security is vital in realizing and sustaining a healthy nutritional wellbeing,” the authors of the bill said in an explanatory note.
Through the proposed nutrition council, the BARMM government will establish a mechanism for facilitating collaboration among agencies, sectors, and stakeholders.
The BARMM has developed its Regional Action Plan for 2020-2022 as a strategic and comprehensive plan to respond to the Bangsamoro region’s nutritional problems.
There are still gaps that must be addressed if the region intended to meet not just national but global nutrition standards.
“Our ongoing experience with the coronavirus disease is a stark reminder that as the pandemic rages on, it will only exacerbate existing inequalities in the country and the Bangsamoro region,” the authors said in the note.
The bill proposes that the council consist of 14 members representing various ministries and sectors, including non-Moro indigenous people, women, the youth, and settler communities.
Its powers and functions include promoting food security and formulating regional food and health policies in the region.
The BARMM covers the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi; the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi; and the 63 villages in six towns of North Cotabato province.