Updated Dec 11, 2018, 2:34:24 PM
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — A law providing for better health and nutrition programs for infants, adolescent females, and expectant mothers has been signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Republic Act (RA) No. 11148, or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act signed on November 29, aims to provide "comprehensive, sustainable multi-sectoral strategies and approaches to address health and nutrition problems of newborns, infants and young children, pregnant and lactating women and adolescent females."
It also seeks "to address multi-factoral issues that negatively affect the development of newborns, infants and young children, integrating the short, medium and long-term plans of the government to end hunger, improve health and nutrition, and reduce malnutrition."
Under the measure, the Department of Health (DOH), the National Nutrition Council (NNC), and other government agencies will take part in the program and formulate plans to ensure the recipients receive proper nutrition and health interventions in the first 1,000 days of life.
The RA also provides for health and nutrition services, as well as psychosocial interventions, in the aftermath of disasters and calamities.
A study released in 2017 said one in three Filipino children below five years old was malnourished.
Child rights advocate Save the Children Foundation, in a 2016 report, said the Philippines 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."
In a statement Monday, Senator Grace Poe said support must be given to increase the budget for RA 11148.
"Just like an infant, the future of this new law-whether or not it fulfills its mandate-lies in the first 1,000 days of its implementation. Without sufficient funding, the law cannot fulfill the program's objectives of scaling down undernutrition and improving the health of mothers and infants," said Poe, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate.
Child Rights Network welcomed RA 11148, saying it provides the government "another powerful weapon in its arsenal to protect and nurture the welfare of children."
"We call on the government to fully maximize this law that provides an essential tool to protect children and their mothers from getting malnourished or sickly during the critical period of first 1,000 days," the group added.