Sizing Up: The Stunting and Child Malnutrition Problem in the Philippines

Report
from Save the Children
Published on 03 Sep 2015 View Original

Filipino ‘shortness’ due to generations of ‘stunted and malnourished’ children – Save the Children report

Save the Children’s new report suggests that Filipino ‘shortness’ is not just a genetic trait but is attributed to generations of ‘stunted’ children who are too small for their age because of malnutrition. In its report ‘Sizing Up: The Stunting and Child Malnutrition Problem in the Philippines’ released today, Save the Children says that one in three Filipino children suffers from stunted growth, an indicator of chronic malnutrition. It also suggests that despite progress in reducing child deaths, slow and unequal progress in curbing child malnutrition and stunting rates is likely to undermine efforts to reduce poverty and stall economic growth.

The report cited the National Nutrition Survey 2013 which indicates that in the last 20 years, stunting rates have gone down by only 9 percent from 39% in 1993 to 30% in 2013. Moreover, the study also shows that children from poorer households in both rural and urban settings and those living in conflict and disaster-prone areas face greater risk of malnutrition, particularly stunting.

Dr. Amado Parawan, Save the Children’s Health and Nutrition advisor said: “The assumption has always been that Filipinos are just genetically short but we what we actually see now are generations of stunted and malnourished children. Because ‘shortness’ is considered a racial trait, it is not seen as a serious concern. Stunting is more than just being short, it impacts children’s future because it hinders physical and mental growth.”

The report also shows that nutrition during the first 1000 days—from a mother’s pregnancy up to child’s second birthday—is crucial in preventing stunting among children. Studies have shown that children who were not able to achieve optimum growth within their first 1,000-day window is at higher risk of impaired cognitive development, which has adverse effects on their schooling performance, labor force participation, and productivity in later life.

Ned Olney, Save the Children’s Country Director said: “Malnutrition is undermining children’s development, economic growth and people’s capacity to get their way out of poverty. By tackling child malnutrition alongside poverty and food security, we are helping save and tap full potential of millions of Filipino children.

With the upcoming electoral campaign and Philippines’ deadline to meet UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on child health, Save the Children launches today its biggest campaign yet against child malnutrition with our slogan ‘Lahat Dapat’ (No Child Left Behind) to call the government, civil society and the public to step up in its efforts in reducing child malnutrition especially in the first 1000 days of a child’s life.

We’re calling the national and local government, civil society, donors and the public to tackle the country’s malnutrition crisis especially stunting:

· Prioritize nutrition as a key development goal in the country and as the centerpiece in the upcoming electoral campaign. Ensure future local and national leaders champion and continue the fight against child malnutrition, particularly on stunting and wasting.

· Push and sustain equitable nutrition policies and programs with appropriate budgetary allocations that address the immediate, underlying and basic causes of malnutrition.

· Scale up cost-effective and affordable high-impact nutrition interventions to prevent deaths of millions of children in the Philippines such as promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding, vitamin A and iron supplementation, treatment of acute malnutrition and maternal nutrition.

· Increase LGU investments for community- and facility-based health and nutrition service providers, particularly regular and standard compensation for frontline nutrition health workers (i.e. Municipal Nutrition Action Officers and Barangay Nutrition Officers) directly involved in the implementation of nutrition programs.

· Support the “First 1000 Days Bill” to enhance the delivery of quality nutrition interventions in the first 1000 days of a child’s life to prevent stunting among children. Sign our pledge today to let our leaders know that no child should be left behind.

ENDS

For High-res photos, interviews and other communication products, call April May Sumaylo, Media Manager, Save the Children at +639173011240 or april.sumaylo@savethechildren.org To download high res photos presented in the launch, click link below: http://www.savethechildren.org.ph/lahatdapat/resources/downloads

NOTES TO EDITOR:

Save the Children Philippines is part of the global Save the Children movement working in over 120 countries.

Present in the country for over three decades, Save the Children delivers programs for Filipino children which gives them a better education and easier access to healthcare, supports them during emergencies while also educating communities on disaster preparedness.

Save the Children has been advocating for policies and holistic programs and projects for mothers, children and their families. We do this by training frontline health and nutrition workers on live-saving care for newborns and their mothers, promoting exclusive breastfeeding, managing community and school-based health and nutrition programs and promoting reproductive health to adolescents. Our work also includes making families more food secure and resilient, for example to natural disaster, by working with governments and other partners to generate alternative incomes and grow nutritious food.

Lahat Dapat is Save the Children’s biggest campaign yet against hunger and malnutrition. Save the Children believes that all children have the right to fair and equal access to nutritious food. We know that the rate of stunting of 33% is largely due to inequality of access to nutritious food, long periods of hunger and a lack of nutrition during the first 1,000 days.

Why Lahat Dapat?

· Lahat Dapat – Save the Children believes no child should be left behind. All children, especially the poorest, should have access to fair and equal access to food and nutrition.

· Lahat Dapat – Although hunger and malnutrition is one of the most preventable problems, its root causes are complex. We need exhaust all means to ensure children get right nutrition they deserve.

· Lahat Dapat – Hunger and malnutrition is everyone’s business. With a strong political will and public support, we can ensure that no child suffers malnutrition’s irreversible impact.

To know more about Lahat Dapat Campaign, visit http://www.savethechildren.org.ph/lahatdapat