Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, expressed his support for the recently launched “Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2023 – 2028,” and described it as a pivotal advancement in the country’s ongoing battle against malnutrition.
The plan, spearheaded by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Renato Solidum, Jr., was officially unveiled on Monday, September 4.
“Ang paglulunsad ng PPAN 2023-2028 ay patunay sa ating kolektibong hangarin na itaas ang kalidad ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga bata,” Go said.
The senator was keen to point out that this initiative must build upon the solid foundation laid by the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte in addressing hunger and malnutrition while overcoming the adverse effects of the pandemic.
“Naging prayoridad ng administrasyon ni dating pangulong Duterte noon ang kalusugan ng mga Pilipino. Programs like the First 1,000 Days were instrumental in addressing malnutrition during the most crucial stages of a child’s life. This new plan is a continuation of that legacy, and I am proud to support it,” Go said.
Herbosa, who also chairs the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Governing Board, emphasized the importance of nutrition in the early stages of life.
“Nutrition is most critical in the first 1,000 days of life— from day one of pregnancy and up to the second year of birth of a child. If left neglected, poor nutrition results in child stunting, which is irreversible, and more importantly, poor brain development,” Herbosa said.
Go echoed Herbosa’s sentiments, stating, “Hindi natin maaring balewalain ang nutrisyon ng ating mga anak. If we do, we are setting them up for a lifetime of challenges that could have been easily prevented.”
Under the Duterte administration, the government enacted several laws and launched various programs aimed at combating malnutrition. Among these were the School-Based Feeding Program, which provided nutritious meals to undernourished public school children, and Republic Act No. 11148 or the “First 1,000 Days” law, which focused on maternal and child health during the earliest days of life.
“Malaki ang ambag ng ating School-Based Feeding Program sa ating laban kontra malnutrisyon. Hindi lamang ito nagbigay ng kinakailangang nutrients sa ating mga anak, kundi itinaas din nito ang kanilang performance sa paaralan,” said Go.
“Samantala, ang ‘First 1,000 Days’ law ay naging pundasyon natin sa pagtiyak na ang ating mga ina at kanilang mga bagong silang ay nakakakuha ng tamang nutrisyon sa simula pa lamang,” added Go.
The new PPAN outlines a comprehensive approach to tackle malnutrition, focusing on three major interventions: increasing the availability and access to nutritious food, promoting social and behavioral change for better feeding practices, and improving access to quality nutrition services.
These interventions include the establishment of food gardens, regulation of unhealthy food, offering maternal health service packages, and integrated maternal and child health nutrition services.
The plan has identified 34 provinces as priority areas for these interventions, including Leyte, Sulu, Negros Occidental, and many others.
“This is a comprehensive approach to a problem that has long plagued our nation. With the collective efforts of the government, private sector, and the Filipino people, we can break the cycle of malnutrition and give every Filipino child a chance for a healthier, brighter future,” concluded Go.
Image credits: Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB