Aquino asks government agencies and the public to work together in addressing malnutrition

November 10, 2012 12:23 am 

MANILA, Nov. 9 — President Benigno S. Aquino III encouraged the people, local communities and government agencies to work together in addressing malnutrition in the country, particularly the nutritional needs of young children.

In his address during the 2012 National Nutrition awarding ceremony in Pasay City on Friday, the President said that while the government has achieved a lot in fighting malnutrition, there are many challenges that lie ahead.

Part of the government’s Millennium Development Goals targets is to provide the people with better nutrition and healthcare, the President said, particularly focusing on underweight children under five years old.

The government made significant gains in the past several years, he said, noting that based on the report, “Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipinos” made by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, the administration was able to reduce the ratio of underweight children from 26.5 percent in 1992 to 20.2 percent in 2011.

While the Chief Executive congratulated local government units and national agencies, he acknowledged the need to achieve the target of 13.6 percent by 2015 and the government must work harder to reach this goal.

“Marami na tayong nagawa, ngunit marami pa rin tayong kailangang pagsumikapan. Aminin po natin, malaki-laki ang atas na maabot ang target na ito,” he said.

“Kaya naman, hinihikayat ko po ang bawat isa na kung maaari doblehin pa ang kayod, at pag-igihan pa ang pagtutulungan, para sama-sama nating mapagtagumpayan ito.”

One of the major strategies is by focusing on the first 1,000 days of each child — from conception to two years old, the President said.

This could be achieved by carrying out nutrition counseling for expectant mothers, preparing them for breastfeeding, putting up lactation stations and by promoting the regular use of alternative milk.

The President underscored the importance of providing children with the optimum nutrition in the first two years of their lives to ensure better foundation of their overall well-being and health.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), together with the LGUs and non-government organizations, is continuously implementing supplementary feeding programs, providing children attending daycare sessions with nutritious food.

As of September this year, 581,388 children from 13,268 daycare centers throughout the country were able to benefit from the program, the President said.

As part of government initiative to invest in people, he said the DSWD will continue to carry out the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.

Beneficiaries will receive government assistance as long as they comply with the conditions set by the program, the President said.

The program yielded good results. From January to August this year, the compliance rate for check-up or immunization for pregnant women and children was 96.26 percent. For deworming children aged six to 14 years old, the compliance rate was 99.23 percent, the President reported.

“Ang bawat hakbang naman po na isinasagawa natin ay nakasandig pa rin sa iisang layunin — ang pangalagaan ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino, at bigyan sila ng mas malawak na pagkakataon sa kaunlaran,” he said.

At the same time, the President called on the parents to guide their children and prepare them for the future, noting the Filipino children will be the nation builders of tomorrow.

Addressing the nutritional needs of the people is a paramount concern of the government because unlike other problems, any delay in solving these problems would have a long-term impact on the people and the country’s ability to develop, the President said.

The 2012 National Nutrition awarding ceremony, organized by the Department of Health, is aimed at recognizing the contributions LGUs and Barangay Nutrition Scholars in improving their communities. (PNA)

SCS/PCOO/SSC

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