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$178M package

Last for Duterte admin: WB loan to curb malnutrition

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 05:14 AM June 24, 2022

The World Bank (WB) on Thursday approved a $178.1-million loan to support Philippine efforts to combat malnutrition, its last financing package for the country under the Duterte administration.

The money will be used for a multisectoral nutrition project to be jointly implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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The project aims to deliver nutrition and health-care services at the primary care and community levels to help reduce stunting in 235 municipalities known to have a high incidence of poverty and malnutrition. Stunting is defined by the bank as having low height for one’s age, characterized by prolonged nutritional deficiency among infants and young children.

“The persistence of high levels of childhood undernutrition in the Philippines, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, could lead to a significant increase in inequality of opportunities in the country,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

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For high-impact

“Where healthy children can do well in school and look forward to a prosperous future, stunted children tend to be sickly, learn less, more likely to drop out of school and their economic productivity as adults can be clipped by more than 10 percent in their lifetime. Households with pregnant women and children under 2 years will benefit from high-impact nutrition interventions, such as infant and young feeding, regular growth monitoring and multiple micronutrient supplements for children 6 to 23 months.

It will also support behavioral change campaigns for targeted households and communities to adopt behaviors crucial to improving nutrition outcomes for women and children, including hand washing with soap; improved sanitation and access to safe drinking water; early child-care and development, and promoting access to the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, or 4Ps, one of the country’s social protection programs.

First 1,000 days

Anchored on the DOH Universal Health Coverage initiative, the World Bank said the project would provide performance-based grants to local governments that would be linked to the delivery of predefined nutrition, maternal and child services. The interventions will focus on the first 1,000 days of life—from conception through pregnancy and birth, the newborn period, infancy and transition to primary school—a critical period of children’s development, according to Nkosinathi Mbuya, World Bank senior nutrition specialist for East Asia and Pacific Region.

“Undernutrition and exposure to risks and adversities during the first 1,000 days of the child’s life can disrupt cognitive, emotional and physical development and hold children back from reaching their full potential, thus affecting the formation of the country’s human capital,” Mbuya said. “Therefore, interventions to improve nutritional outcomes must focus on this age group and women of child-bearing age.”

Such adversities and risks include poverty; malnutrition; lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities; lack of nurturing care and stimulation; high levels of family stress; exposure to conflict, violence, child abuse, or neglect, and lack of access to quality health, nutrition; and education services.

Impact of conflict

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is likely to exacerbate the food and nutrition security of vulnerable Filipino households, according to the World Bank.

Globally, food prices, already on the rise since the second half of 2020, have reached an all-time high in February this year, leading to food security problems around the world.

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These events indicate that unless immediate action is taken, millions of Filipino children will face the increased risk of undernutrition and likely suffer the consequences of poor school performance and low adult productivity, the bank added.

In 2021, the World Bank released a report noting that for nearly 30 years there has been almost no improvement in the prevalence of undernutrition in the country as latest estimates showed 1 in 3, or 29 percent of children younger than 5 years old, suffer from stunting caused by impaired growth and development due to poor nutrition.

The World Bank also reported that the Philippines ranked fifth among East Asia and Pacific region countries with the highest prevalence of stunting, and was one of the 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH

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TAGS: Duterte, Loan, Malnutrition, World Bank
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