‘Malnutrition, child stunting must be top natl agenda’


THE Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) is urging the government to declare malnutrition and child stunting as top national agenda, particularly to ensure that concrete measures will be taken and sufficient funds will be earmarked, among others.

“The government’s declaration of malnutrition and child stunting as a priority agenda will ensure that concrete measures will be taken, sufficient funds will be earmarked, and actions will be cascaded from the national all the way to the community level,” MAP said in its statement on Monday.

The business group said it “firmly believes” that malnutrition and child stunting deserve to be among the country’s top national priorities because of their “huge” human and economic costs. But MAP stressed that this should be addressed together with “other urgent issues” like poverty, climate change, and national security.

Failure to address this problem in an “urgent and decisive” manner will place the country’s future in the hands of stunted children becoming adults whose capacity to be productive, competitive, and creative are limited.

With this, MAP welcomed the opportunity to serve as one of the three private sector representatives in the National Nutrition Council (NNC) and contribute to its mandate to formulate national food policies and strategies for nutritional improvement.

“We in the MAP hope to expand our role beyond fund generation and philanthropy to a shared responsibility in addressing malnutrition in the country, participating in the governance of nutrition strategies and interventions,” the business group said.

To help solve this “persistent” social problem and boost efforts to eradicate child stunting resulting from malnutrition, MAP launched a campaign against malnutrition and child stunting in the country. Initiatives were laid out aimed at complementing the Government’s Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP).

Under the campaign, MAP sought government’s “effective and judicious” use of the PMNP’s P10-billion loan from the World Bank to address the health and nutrition needs of poor mothers and their children.

“We fully support the four-year PMNP which aims to lower the incidence of malnutrition by helping over two hundred towns through primary health care services and nutritional support that will be provided to children and pregnant mothers,” the group said.

“We recommend an active pursuit of tripartite partnerships —business sector, government, and community—for a whole-of-society approach in fighting malnutrition and child stunting,” it added.

Citing a World Bank (WB) study, MAP said severe malnutrition remains a serious problem for nearly 30 years, with one in every three Filipino children below 5 years old suffering from stunting.

“The country ranks fifth among countries in the East Asia and the Pacific region with the highest prevalence of child stunting. Rural areas have more stunted children [30 percent] than in urban areas [26 percent] in direct proportion to the poverty levels in the provinces like Western and Southern Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Samar, and the far north of Luzon. Stunting rates are the highest in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao [BARMM] [45 percent] and lowest in Manila and Central Luzon [23 percent],” MAP noted.