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Legarda Stresses Effects of Undernutrition in Child Growth, Economy

August 29, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the importance of providing good nutrition to children not only to ensure optimal growth but also to mitigate the effects of undernutrition on our economy.

Legarda made the statement during the launch of Alaska Fortified Milk at the Santolan Elementary School in Pasig City.

“I am well aware that one of the urgent problems the government must attend to is the problem of undernutrition and stunting. The 2015 National Nutrition Survey indicated that undernutrition among children less than five years old remains a public health problem,” said Legarda.

The UNICEF, Department of Health (DOH) and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) released a study last year on “The Economic Consequences of Undernutrition in the Philippines.” According to this study, over 28 million children suffer from undernutrition.

“Undernutrition is the direct or indirect cause of almost half of child deaths. Over 29,000 Filipino children below five die each year due to undernutrition,” she said.

Legarda added, “Undernutrition not only affects children’s physical growth, it also diminishes their learning capacity and school performance. Later in life as adults and professionals, they have lower productivity and reduced earnings by half.”

The Senator said that this is alarming for both our children and our society as a whole.

According to the report, the Philippines is losing and will continue to lose around $4.5 billion per year if current rates of undernutrition are not mitigated. In 2015, this loss was estimated at around Php220 billion or equivalent to 1.5% of the country’s GDP.

In line with this, Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, said that she will look into the budget of government agencies with programs aimed at addressing undernutrition.

“There has been continuous funding over the years for nutrition-related programs for our children such as: the school-based feeding program by Department of Education (DepEd), supplementary feeding program by Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and other research and monitoring support programs by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).  As we review the proposed national budget for 2019, we will look into these programs to check if these have been implemented and if effective in addressing undernutrition,” she said.

“All of these should compel us to work even harder, together, across all sectors of society, to mitigate this issue. It is high time that we start investing in our biggest, most important resource—the Filipino people, particularly our children.  It is high time for us to invest in every Filipino so we can leave a definite brighter future for this country,” Legarda concluded.