Poe calls for urgent passage of bills vs child malnutrition
Sen. Grace Poe is urging Malacañang to certify as urgent the passage of twin nutrition measures aimed at establishing a free lunch feeding program in all public schools and providing children full support beginning conception up to two years old.
Poe made the call on Thursday following a new study showing that the Philippine economy is losing P328 billion a year due to malnutrition.
“The report is very alarming and implies that malnutrition is rampant despite various government interventions,” she said in a statement.
“The report reveals yet another crisis that we are facing, its damaging effects. We need to enact public health laws that are comprehensive to ensure that children are protected and supported,” she added.
Poe has filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 160 or the proposed Libreng Pananghalian sa Pampublikong Paaralan Act and SB 161 or the First 1,000 Days Act.
SB 160, she said, seeks to institutionalize a free nutri-meals program for children enrolled in the K-12 public schools in a bid to improve their health, attendance and academic performance, while SB 161 provides maternal and child health care program in every barangay, which includes nutrition and family counselling, proper breastfeeding of children, nutritional support for pregnant and nursing mothers, treatment of malnourished children, and other timely interventions.
The senator also saw the need to immediately convene the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) and include the two anti-hunger measures among the administration’s priority bills.
“The government must immediately act to prioritize nutrition legislation to prevent further economic losses. Investing in children is also investing in the future of our country,” he said.
A study titled “Cost of Hunger: Philippines” and released by Save the Children on August 30 showed that the Philippines loses nearly three percent of its gross domestic product due to childhood stunting, which is said to be the most prevalent form of undernutrition that has permanent effects on a child’s growth and development.
The overall economic loss of P328 billion, according to the study, consists of P166.5 billion worth of lost income as a result of lower level education achieved by the working population who suffered from childhood stunting, P160 billion in lost productivity due to premature deaths among children who would have been members of our current working-age population, and P1.23 billion in additional education costs to cover grade repetitions linked to undernutrition./rga
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