Updated 00:58 AM PHT Thu, September 1, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A report from international non-government organization Save the Children says the country loses billions each year due to the effects of malnutrition.
According to the report entitled, "Cost of Hunger: Philippines," malnutrition in the country has resulted in childhood stunting – "the most prevalent kind of undernutrition which has permanent effects on a child's growth and development."
Save the Children said that children who were stunted in the first two years of their lives would tend to drop out of schools and repeat grade levels.
The result from this is that members of the workforce who "experienced childhood stunting have lower income levels. In addition, child deaths result in a loss of income for both the family and the country."
In 2013, education and productivity losses due to childhood stunting amounted to ₱328 billion. This was almost 3% of the year's GDP.
The report said the ₱328 billion in losses was due to:
- ₱166.5 billion worth of lost income as a result of lower level of education by the working population who suffered from childhood stunting
- ₱160 billion in lost productivity due to premature deaths among children who would have been members of our current working-age population
- ₱1.23 billion in additional education costs to cover grade repetitions linked to undernutrition.
From 2013 to 2015, the cases of childhood stunting in Filipino children grew to 30.3% to 33.4%
According to Ned Olney, country director of Save the Children Philippines, “If stunting rates continue to rise, it would be difficult for families to break free from poverty. It is the poor and neglected sectors of society that carry the burden of stunting. Any investment in reducing childhood undernutrition will reduce suffering and poverty, and will ultimately stimulate economic growth for all Filipinos.”
However, the report said that the country's investment in nutrition programs to combat malnutrition is at 0.52% of government expenditures.
The global average spending is 2.1%
Olney said, "Nutrition is the cornerstone of all development efforts. This new report tells us that for every $1 spent on programs to avert stunting in children below 2 years old, the Philippines could save over $100 dollars in health, education, and lost productivity costs.”
The report added that, "In 2013, 32.6 million (53%) of working-age Filipinos (15 to 64 years old) had suffered from undernutrition (stunting) when they were less than five years old."