Legarda: First 1,000 Days Bill Critical in Infant, Child Mortality

March 6, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today hailed the Senate’s approval on third reading of the proposed measure that will improve the health and life expectancy of Filipino children by giving prime concern on the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life.

Legarda, co-author of Senate Bill No. 1537 or “The Healthy Nanay and Bulilit Act,” said that the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life, which covers the nine months of a mother’s pregnancy until a child’s second birthday, is the foundation of a person’s future health, intellectual development, and motor and social skills.

“Good nutrition for mothers and babies at pregnancy and infancy stage is crucial to sustain a sturdy foundation for a child’s well being,” said Legarda.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the leading causes of death worldwide of over 5.9 million children under 5 years old in 2015 were linked to malnutrition. The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) reported that the country has now reached its highest rate of chronic malnutrition in 10 years among children aged 0-2, which is at 26%.

The Senator likewise aired her concern over the Department of Health (DOH) report which revealed that a Filipino child born to the poorest family is three times more likely not to reach his 5th birthday compared to one born to the richest family.

“Through this measure, we can establish a strategic and sustainable strategy to address the crisis in malnutrition among children and women in prenatal and newborn care,” said Legarda.

Under the bill, the DOH, the National Nutrition Council (NNC), in coordination with other national government agencies, local government units (LGUs), civil society organizations and other stakeholders, will develop a comprehensive and sustainable strategy for the first 1,000 days of life to address the health nutrition, and developmental problems affecting infants, young children, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls.

LGUs shall institutionalize the maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition program and integrate it in the local nutrition action plans and investment plans for health. Implementation will be at the barangay level through the rural health units and barangay health centers.

Health and nutrition services and interventions will be provided at the different life stages—prenatal period, women about to give birth and immediate postpartum period, postpartum and lactating women, birth and newborn period, first six months of infancy, and infants six months up to two years of age.

The First 1000 Days strategy will prioritize urban and rural populations who reside in disaster-prone, geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, areas with high prevalence of undernutrition, hazard/conflict-prone areas, and with poor families identified by the National Household Targeting System.

“We hope to comprehensively and sustainably address malnutrition through the advancement and protection of the right of men and women to access all information necessary to make informed choice on the proper care, nutrition and food choices for their children and family,” Legarda concluded.