To help address children’s nutrition woes, which affect their performance in school, P300 million has been allocated under the 2024 national budget for evidence-based nutrition interventions during the early years, Senator Win Gatchalian said.
These interventions, which seek to complement the Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP), target nutritionally at-risk pregnant mothers and children below 5 years old in fifth- and sixth-class municipalities that exhibit more than 15% stunting rates. The PMNP is a four-year project led by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which implements nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions across various local government units.
In its report titled “Miseducation: The Failed System of Philippine Education,” the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM II) flagged that, at 26.7%, the Philippines has one of the highest prevalence of stunting among children under five years old in the world. The global average is 22.3%. It was the EDCOM that proposed the funding for the nutritionally at-risk mothers and children under the 2024 budget.
“Isa sa mga naging rekomendasyon ng EDCOM II para sa taong 2024 ang paglalaan ng pondo para sa mga ina at batang nasa peligro ang kalusugan. Patuloy nating pagsisikapan na tugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kabataan pagdating sa nutrisyon, lalo na’t may malawak na epekto ito sa kanilang kakayahang matuto at magkaroon ng magandang buhay,” said Gatchalian, Co-Chairperson of EDCOM II.
The EDCOM II also pointed out that nutrition-specific interventions in the Philippines for children below five have been fragmented, with low coverage and weak targeting.
While the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act (Republic Act No. 11037) mandates the DSWD to feed only malnourished children, the agency’s feeding program feeds all children in day care centers. Data from the Department of Education (DepEd) also showed that 30% of children who take part in the school-based feeding program fall back to becoming “wasted” and “severely wasted.”
In the long run, Gatchalian pressed the importance of mobilizing local government units (LGUs) in the delivery of nutrition and feeding programs. He filed the Basic Education and Early Childhood Education Alignment Act (Senate Bill No. 2029), aiming to strengthen the quality and delivery of early childhood care and development (ECCD) programs. It also seeks to broaden the responsibilities of LGUs when it comes to early childhood education.