Launching of ‘1st 1000 Days National Summit’ at the Manila Hotel gains huge support

At a glance


The “1st 1000 Days National Summit” was officially launched on Saturday, May 27, at the Manila Hotel where various government agencies, non-local organizations (NGOs) and the general public threw their overwhelming support to resolve the children’s malnutrition woes in the country.

Several resource persons gave their inputs on pressing issues particularly the roots behind the problem and remedial measures that can be enforced to address the problem of malnutrition among the children specifically in their formative five years old and under age bracket.

Former Senator Joey Lina, overall project chairman of the newly-formed “Children’s First One Thousand Days Coalition’’ viewed the heartbreaking data on the malnutrition incidents in the Philippines.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Philippines noted that 95 Filipino children die daily from malnutrition with 27 every 1,000 children not getting past their fifth birthday.

It added that one third of the Filipino children are stunted or short in height for their ages, citing that stunting by age two can be permanent, irreversible or can be fatal.

The World Bank noted that “stunting in the first 1,000 days is associated with poorer performance in school, both because malnutrition affects brain development and also because malnourished children are more likely to get sick and miss school.’’

Among the East Asia and Pacific Region, Achim Fock, World Bank Operations Manager for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, said that the country ranks fifth among the countries with the highest prevalence of stunting and is among the 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children.

“The persistence of very high levels of childhood undernutrition, despite decades of economic growth and poverty reduction, could lead to a staggering loss of the country’s human and economic potential, and that the Philippines Human Capital Index (HCI) of 0.52 indicates that the future productivity of a child born today will half of what could have been achieved with complete education and full health,’’ Fock explained.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. recognized the effect in the brain of malnutrition, stressing the urgency for a comprehensive and unified intervention to end the problem.

Citing the vision of the administration, Abalos pointed out that solving the country’s malnutrition woes has been one of the prime priorities of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. where he inculcated that “healthy children make strong nation.’’

As such, Abalos stated that the DILG will issue a memorandum  enjoining all the local government units (LGUs), from the provinces, cities, municipalities down to the grassroots of the barangays “to welcome the members of this coalition and related groups for a joint and collaborative efforts to plan and implement any local intervention program,’’ a move that earned praises from Lina.

Abalos stressed having conferred with Lina the urgency to “have a technical working group and all of the focal persons’’ to discuss matters related to the country’s children malnutrition issues.

“Let’s do it (form technical working groups) now, if not next week,’’ Abalos noted.

He also questioned “what went wrong along the way’’ with the barangays having their respective health workers and even the “BNAO (Barangay Nutrition Action Offices)”, stressing that there seems to be a problem in the implementation with the structures (nutritional plan) already in place.

The DILG chief also emphasized that the government had already implemented the ‘4Ps (Pantawid, Pamilyang, Pilipino Program),’ where ‘each of the poor families are given ‘ the amounts, allocations’ to sustain the educational and health needs of their children.

Abalos insisted that “these (4Ps allocation) should be reviewed, saying “eto ba ay napupunta sa pagkain, eto ba ay napupunta sa tama (Do they use this to buy food, iIs this being used properly)?’’

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, former chairman of World Vision cited the ‘seriousness’
of the country’s malnutrition woes, with some describing the Philippines being in the ‘deep hole’ and some ‘having thrown up their hands describing malnutrition as a curse, a problem beyond solution.’

“Without doubt, the statistics on the issue (malnutrition) are intimidating. In the 2022 global hunger index, the Philippines ranks 69 out 121 countries surveyed,’’ Puno stated.

In the latest survey released by Social Weather Station (SWS), Puno bared that ‘some 8.7 million adult Filipinos’ were found jobless, which worsened the country’s poverty problem.

Referring to the 2021 World Bank report, Puno said that the Philippines was described to suffering from a ‘chronic undernutrition’ for decades “and with no improvements in the last 30 years.’’

Despite the unfavorable reports, Lina exuded confidence that the coalition will be successful in turning things around with Abalos calling on the LGUs down to the barangays to provide support to the group and numerous sectors joining the call to fight malnutrition in the country.

Thousands of participants in the summit signed the covenant of support to the “Children’s First 1000 Days Coalition’’ group with Lina calling for a ‘brighter, stronger, taller’ Filipino children.