‘Stolen Childhoods’ report: More stunted kids noted in PH
More than three million Filipinos aged 5 years and below are stunted or have impaired growth, placing the Philippines among the 10 countries with the highest number of chronically undernourished children.
“Stunting is the major driver of the end of childhood for Filipino children,” Save the Children Philippines country director Ned Olney said in a media forum on Thursday.
The Philippines ranked 96th out of 172 countries based on eight indicators that affect a safe and happy childhood, according to Save the Children’s global index report dubbed “Stolen Childhoods,” which was released worldwide on Thursday to coincide with International Children’s Day.
Olney said the next two indicators that drove the Philippines’ low ranking were teen pregnancy rate (per 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19: 62.7 percent) and death rate of children under 5 years old (for every 1,000 live births: 28 percent). The figures were based on 2015 data.
The other indicators are: rate of out-of-school children, child labor, teen marriage, displacement by conflict, and child homicide.
These factors “end childhood” as they restrict future opportunities for children, Olney said.
From 2013 to 2015, the stunting rate in the Philippines went up by 10 percent from 30 to 33 percent, the largest increase in childhood stunting in the last quarter century, Olney said.
A child is said to be stunted when his or her height falls below the median of the World Health Organization Child Growth Standards.
“A lot of people think height is hereditary, it is not,” Dr. Amado Parawan, Save the Children health and nutrition advisor, said. “Height does not depend on race, ethnicity or geographical location. It has something to do with nutrition.”
The group urged the government to increase investment in nutrition, noting that the Philippines allots only 0.52 percent of its budget for nutrition-specific interventions. Olney said the average budget allocation in Asean is 2 percent.
The group is currently implementing a treatment and management program in 17 barangays in Navotas and Malabon cities.
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