Friday, February 23, 2024

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House boosts fight vs malnutrition

The House of Representatives this week approved on second reading, through viva voce voting, House Bill 5777 which seeks to strengthen health and nutrition programs to address malnutrition and poor health among pregnant and lactating women and young children.

The approved bill is entitled “An Act Strengthening the National and Local Health and Nutrition Programs for Pregnant and Lactating Women, Adolescent Girls of Reproductive Age and Teen-Age Mothers, Infants and Young Children in the First 1,000 Days, and Appropriating Funds Therefor”.

The bill is in line with the policy of the State to guarantee the right to adequate food, care and nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers, including adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, and especially children from zero to two-years-old.

Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Party-list, DIWA), principal author of the bill, said maintaining the health of the pregnant mother is crucial, not just for preventing maternal mortality, but also preventing infant mortality and ensuring a good nutritional foundation for a healthy child.

“Mothers who do not receive the proper nutrition while pregnant usually give birth to babies who are Small for their Gestational Age or SGA,” the lawmaker explained.

Rep. Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon), chair of the committee on health and one of the authors, said the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is most critical for growth and development within which hunger and poor nutrition can have irreversible consequences.

The bill aims to provide a more comprehensive, sustainable and multi-sectoral approach to address health and nutrition and a policy environment conductive to nutrition improvement.

It also intends to provide mechanisms, strategies and approaches in implementing programs and projects to improve the health nutritional status and to eradicate malnutrition and hunger and to strengthen and define the roles of the Department of Health (DOH), and the National Nutritional Council (NNC) Governing Board as the policy-making bodies on health and nutrition.

Likewise, the bill seeks to ensure the meaningful and active participation, partnership and cooperation of NNC-member agencies, other National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGUs), Civil Society (CSO) and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), health professional organizations, academic and research institutions, and other private sector organizations, in an integrated and holistic manner, for the promotion of the nutritional well-being of the population.

The measure covers those who are nutritionally at risk, giving priority to pregnant and lactating women, particularly teen-age mothers, women of reproductive age, most especially adolescent girls and all children from birth to 24 months old.

Priority shall also be given to those who reside in disaster-prone and geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).

The bill calls for a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to address health and nutrition problems affecting pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children and adolescent girls.

This shall be formulated by the Department of Health (DOH), and the NNC Governing Board as a program to operationalize the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) which integrates short, medium and long term plan of the government in response to the global call to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

Health and nutrition services and intervention for women, infants and young children shall be rendered during the first 270 days (conception and pregnancy – prenatal period, women about to give birth and immediate postpartum period, postpartum and lactating women); 180 days (birth and newborn period, first 6 months of infancy) and 550 days (infants six months up to 2 years of age).

Delivery of health and nutrition services for adolescent girls, girls of reproductive age and teen-age mothers shall include, among other things, provision of age-appropriate vaccines according to DOH guidelines; provision of oral health services and provision of anti-helmintic drug for deworming.

The bill amends the composition of the NNC Governing Board, its functions, roles and responsibilities as stipulated in the Executive Order No. 324, series of 1987, known as the “Reorganization Act of the National Nutrition Council”.

Other authors of the bill are Reps. Rogelio Espina (Lone District, Biliran), Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez (Party-list, ALONA), Luis Villafuerte (2nd District, Camarines Sur) Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (Lone District, Aurora), Sandra Eriguel (2nd District, La Union), Teodoro Montoro (Party-list, AASENSO), Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA), Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao), Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), Michelle Antonio (Party-list, AGBIAG), Eric Olivarez (1st District, Parañaque City) and Carlos Isagani Zarate (Party-list, BAYAN MUNA). / MVIP | HOR-PR

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