2023 March 30
MANILA – The Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) will be implemented in 235 local government units (LGUs) with the highest burden of childhood stunting and undernutrition, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Thursday.
Under the project, participating municipalities will receive packages of support from PMNP in the form of performance-based grants (PBG) for the LGU and input support packages such as primary health care and nutrition commodities, municipal grant allocation (MGA) for the covered communities/barangays, and capacity building and technical assistance packages.
The municipalities will also be provided with support for social and behavioral change communication strategies and approaches and support for the development of a harmonized information system.
The project will also cover additional 40 municipalities from three provinces in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), identified as part of the priority areas of Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRC) and Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN).
The DSWD and partner Department of Health (DOH) jointly called on the LGUs, private sector and communities to actively participate in addressing the prevalence of childhood stunting and nutritional deficiencies.
The two agencies emphasized that improving nutrition among children and women has always been the priority in the overall PPAN and is now a priority under the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian and DOH officer-in-charge Secretary Ma. Rosario Singh-Vergeire spearheaded the launching of the PMNP on Wednesday.
Led by the DSWD and DOH, the PMNP is a four-year project that will support the adoption of a multisectoral nutrition approach to deliver a package of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, together with social behavior change and communication strategy, across various platforms of LGUs in the country.
In his message, President Marcos expressed his support to the multisectoral approach of the program in addressing the “paramount” concern on malnutrition and hunger.
“It is important because such an approach is seen to be the effective method to deal with this multi-faceted problem, the benefits from which we will feel all the way from the very top of our society down to the grassroots level,” he said.
Marcos assured that this administration is working conscientiously “to find effective and cross-cutting solutions to address these and other paramount social problems and concerns.”
According to the National Nutrition Survey 2019 Report, the prevalence of stunting among Filipino children below 5 years old ranges from 28.8 percent to 33.8 percent. This stage in that child’s life can lead to several consequences such as mortality from infections, developmental delays (cognitive, social and emotional, motor skills, speech and language), lack of physical stamina in later life and increased likelihood of low economic productivity.
In 2016, a study by UNICEF revealed that malnutrition cost the country about USD4.5 billion (PHP240 billion) annually, representing future economic losses resulting from child mortality, developmental delays in children, adult work deficits and child morbidity.
“We know that healthy children are more likely to excel in school and become productive members of society, while undernourished children tend to struggle with illness, learning, and are more likely to drop out of school,” Vergeire said.
She said improving the health and nutrition of all children, therefore, is essential to ensuring the success of future generations of Filipinos.
“To achieve this, we need greater coordination between local and national government units and the active participation of the private sector and civil society. Together, we can finally reduce undernutrition that afflicts many poor and vulnerable families,” she added.
The DSWD said the primary beneficiaries of the PMNP are the households of the First 1,000 Days (F1KD) program in the targeted project sites. These households include pregnant and lactating women, children aged 2 to under 5 years with stunting, and adolescent girls.
The poorest households and the indigenous peoples will also benefit from improved nutrition-sensitive interventions while the public at large will benefit from national media campaigns as well as health- and nutrition-related interventions, it said.
Gatchalian said, “We are all aware that nutrition is a critical component of overall health and well-being, particularly for mothers and adolescents. We believe that through community-based nutrition service delivery, we can reach more people and make nutrition services available to those who may face barriers to accessing health care.”
“Using the community-driven development approach, we put communities at the center of the decision-making process. Consequently, communities are empowered to identify their nutrition challenges and design culturally appropriate and responsive solutions to their specific needs. The PMNP aims to build communities’ capacities to address nutrition challenges sustainably in the long run,” he added.
The PMNP is funded by the World Bank which granted USD178.1 million or about PHP9.7 billion loan to the Philippine government last year.
“The World Bank is fully committed to supporting the country’s goal to reduce the incidence of stunting among Filipino children,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
“Addressing undernutrition is critical to improving human capital, a central driver of sustainable growth and rapid poverty reduction,” Diop added.
Zaldy De Layola