TACLOBAN CITY – At least 53,055 children under five years old in Eastern Visayas are short, prompting the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to ask all stakeholders to join the battle against stunting.
The number of preschool children with stunted growth represents 18.33 percent of the total 289,343 children measured through the annual monitoring done by local governments in the region in 2019.
While local officials are busy dealing with the health crisis, fighting stunting should also be given attention by helping communities and families become aware of ways to stop this malnutrition problem, Catalino Dotollo, NNC 8 (Eastern Visayas) nutrition program coordinator, said in a phone interview on Friday.
“The case of stunting in the country and the region is alarming. We need to provide very crucial intervention during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life because unlike underweight, the effect of stunting is irreversible,” Dotollo said.
The movement restrictions during the pandemic may threaten food security, especially among poor families in the region, thus, giving local officials more reason to bring nutrition services.
“Our appeal to local government units is to make families aware of how to prevent stunting, by all means, using different platforms,” he added.
Among the provinces in the region, Samar has the highest prevalence of stunting at 29.08 percent, followed by Leyte (17.29 percent), Biliran (16.94 percent), Northern Samar (16.75 percent), Eastern Samar (16.24 percent), and Southern Leyte (11.64 percent).
Dotollo said the number of stunted children could be higher if the local government covered all children under five years in their height monitoring activity.
Of the region’s projected 483,317 preschoolers, only 59.86 percent were measured, below the ideal 80 percent.
In the national survey, at least three of every 10 Filipino children are stunted with Eastern Visayas as one of the regions with a high prevalence, according to a study by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.
Stunting, especially in the first 1,000 days (from conception until the age of two) has harmful consequences for the individual and society, such as low educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity, increased risk of non-communicable diseases, and even death.
Addressing stunting is the focus of this year’s Nutrition Month celebration.
On July 1, various agencies and local governments in the region joined the launch of month-long activities anchored on the theme “Batang Pinoy, Sana Tall… Iwas Stunting, Sama All!”.
“The theme expresses the aspiration of Filipino families to have children who are able to achieve their fullest potential, which can be achieved when all agencies and development partners work together,” Dotollo added.
The celebration focuses on catalyzing actions to address child stunting, raising awareness of the impact of stunting and evidence-based solutions among families and communities leading to change in behaviors to prevent stunting.
Archie Labordo, NNC-8 senior nutrition officer, said the activity also seeks to stimulate national, local, and community discourse on stunting to understand its causes and the multi-sectoral solutions for increased investments in interventions.
“We want to generate concrete commitment among various stakeholders to scale up nutrition actions down to
the household level to address stunting,” Labordo said.
To make the month-long celebration meaningful, the NNC scheduled a series of activities to include different online contests.
To participate in the contests, netizens are invited to visit the NNC Region 8 Facebook page and get updates on the mechanics and names of winners.
Presidential Decree 491 issued in 1974 declared that Nutrition Month would be held every July to create greater awareness on the importance of nutrition among Filipinos.
Likewise, the law mandates the NNC to coordinate and lead the nationwide campaign. (PNA)
Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph