2023 March 29
Understanding the importance of good nutrition to the people and national development, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday led the launch of the Philippine Multi-sectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) with the theme “Better Bodies and Minds.”
Speaking during the event at the Manila Hotel, President Marcos said his administration is committed to investing in the country’s 110-million strong population, considered the main drivers of the economy.
The President stressed that the government must capacitate and hone the people for them to become industrious, potent and productive Filipinos, who are strong and resilient, withstanding the rigors of citizen life, to live long and to enjoy their lives in the process.
“This is the reason why this Administration has put a high priority and considered it of strategic importance that lies in the areas of food security, health care, and education, amongst others,” the President said as he noted why he has taken the role of Secretary of Agriculture, which is to address the particular challenge.
“Sometimes we do not think about it and therefore do not often realize it, but lodged at the very core of all this is the aspect of good nutrition for our people. On the one hand, we have acknowledged the harrowing state of affairs that hunger and food inadequacy continue to be of paramount national, and for that matter, international concerns,” the chief executive pointed out.
The PMNP, a four-year project spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is geared towards adopting a bold multi-sectoral approach to achieve nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions across various local government units (LGUs).
Citing the recent Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS), which took note of the high incidence of stunting among other health issues among Filipino children, President Marcos said the government must tackle malnutrition, which is linked to long-term adverse developmental impacts.
This menace, the President said, is taking its toll on the people’s learning ability, academic performance, all the way to productivity and employment opportunities—and it also carries with it hereditary implications.
Like the problem of food security, these related nutritional issues are also critical and fundamental to the Philippine socio-economic development, President Marcos pointed out.
The President said the major nutrition project is a strategic government intervention, adopting a “multi-sectoral community participatory approach”.
The initiative, which joins together the DOH, the DSWD, the DA, the National Nutrition Council, the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) , as well as LGUs from Luzon to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), is important because such approach is seen to be the effective method to deal with this multifaceted problem.
President Marcos also recognized the World Bank for providing the crucial funding assistance to make the project a reality.
Citing the international financial institution, the President said investing in nutrition promises highest returns, making it one of the best value-for-money development actions.
The project, the chief executive said, would deliver services straight to the LGUs needing intervention, in the form of primary healthcare support and nutrition services, including Early Childhood Care and Development services, on top of access to clean water and sanitation, technical information, training and financing, among other facets.
The President also stressed the importance of LGU participation in carrying out the project because without the partnership with the local governments, “we do not get to what is often referred to as the last mile.”
To further address malnutrition in the country, the President once again called on the DOH to collaborate with other concerned government agencies in harmonizing and effecting sound diet and nutritional policies and practices for the people.
The government, President Marcos said, must continue to exert the best efforts to ensure well-orchestrated and coordinated strategy to implement not only the PMNP but all related nutritional programs throughout the country, so as to be able to get a maximum effect for all government efforts.
President Marcos thanked lawmakers for their assistance in the nutrition project by helping the administration develop and enshrine into law policies that will help eradicate malnutrition and uplift the standards of primary health care and nutrition in the Philippines.
“As the country continues to face persistent threats of hunger and malnutrition, rest assured that this Administration is working conscientiously to find effective and cross-cutting solutions to address these and other paramount social problems and concerns,” the President said.