Malnutrition remains serious in the Philippines, where according to a 2018 survey, 15 percent of children 0-23 months were underweight, 25.5 percent were stunted, and 7 percent were wasted.
The 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department to Science and Technology also showed that iron-deficiency anemia, which can increase risks of infection and dying among pregnant and lactating women, as well as infants, affected 26 percent of pregnant women, 14 percent of lactating women, and 39 percent of 0-23 months old children.
Left unchecked, malnourished babies—especially the poor—could become poor learners in school, and have limited employment opportunities and low productivity. Undernourished girls, according to the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council, “are likely to be undernourished through adolescence up to adulthood, including the period of pregnancy.”
Through the enactment of the Republic Act 11148 or the First 1,000 Days Law, this cycle of producing malnourished Filipinos will hopefully be prevented. Signed into law late in 2018, it envisions to give the marginalized families easier access to health and nutrition programs in the first 1,000 days i.e. conception until two years of age.
With the intent of helping the country improve F1KD nutritional outcomes, the Nutrition International and Zuellig Family Foundation forged a partnership to improve capacities of mayors and other health leaders in delivering better nutrition services in the cities of Puerto Princesa headed by Mayor Lucilo Bayron, Tacurong led by former Mayor Lina Montilla and Mayor Angelo Montilla and Tagum led by Mayor Allan Rellon. These LGUs had undergone other health leadership and governance programs of the ZFF.
Launched last July 10, the Urban Nutrition Governance project will strengthen capacities of mayors and local governments to plan, finance, and govern integrated nutrition service delivery networks. The project will coach and mentor city and village governments on systems-approach for nutrition through enabling policies and participatory governance, multi-sectoral collaboration, and improvements in technical capacities of health and nutrition workers.
The project aims to reduce undernutrition in the F1KD and specifically targets adolescent mothers, indigenous women and children, urban poor women with young children, and transient families in the three cities.
During the launch, F1KD law co-author Senator Rissa Hontiveros said, “…partnerships with the private sector… and even with other nations like Canada, which has generously supported these worthwhile endeavors, form a cornerstone to achieving our goal of better nutrition and health outcomes for all Filipinos.”
Likewise, DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, M.D. said of the nutrition governance project, “It will bring together the respective expertise, experience, and strengths in governance and program management of the government, Nutrition International, and the Zuellig Family Foundation-and leverage these for tangible results on improving health and nutrition outcomes.”