Private sector help eyed in nutrition programs for children

2023 June 27

MANILA – The poverty alleviation program of newly appointed Presidential Adviser Larry Gadon will begin with Batang Busog Malusog (BBM) in July, which is National Nutrition Month.

Speaking at the Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, Gadon said poverty alleviation without discrimination is among the primary programs of the Marcos administration.

The BBM program will prioritize school children hobbled by learning abilities due to malnutrition, according to studies.

Gadon said he plans to leverage his long experience in corporate law practice to convince the private sector to help in such programs.

Iyong mga malalaking mga kumpanya o negosyante, hihikayatin ko sila. Magkakaroon ako ng link sa kanila na kanilang i-adopt itong programa na ito bilang corporate social responsibility at sila ay mag-ampon o mag-adopt ng isang public school sa kanilang nasasakupang areas (I will ask businesses to adopt this program as their corporate social responsibility program or adopt a public school near their areas),” Gadon said.

In March, the Department of Health (DOH) cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) that the stunting rate among children aged 0 to 23 months had plateaued over the last 10 years at 21.6 percent.

“That means it has not changed and we are not able to move on and progress or improve it,” said then-DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in an online briefing.

The PSA data also showed 12.3 percent of children aged 0 to 23 months are underweight.

Children aged 0 to 4 years old accounted for over 11 million as of the 2020 census, or a little over 10 percent of the Philippines’ estimated population of 113 million.

Sang-ayon sa pag-aaral, ang kanilang dahilan sa pagkakaroon ng hindi magandang kalidad ng edukasyon o lubos na pag-unawa sa mga leksiyon sa eskuwelahan ay dahil sa kagutuman at kakulangan sa nutrisyon sa kanilang mga katawan at kaisipan (According to studies, school children cannot fully comprehend lessons because of lack of nutrition),” Gadon said.

Gadon said poverty alleviation should also veer away from dole outs and instead start with job creation and livelihood programs.

Ang ayuda kasi ay isang dagliang lunas gawa ng problema na dinulot ng pandemya. Pero ang talagang kung nais natin na ibangon sa kahirapan ang ating mga kababayan lalung-lalo na iyong nasa baba ay dapat bigyan natin sila ng trabaho at permanenteng hanapbuhay or livelihood upang maahon natin sila sa kahirapan (Giving dole outs is an immediate solution to address the effects of the pandemic. But if we really want to get our citizens out of poverty, we should provide jobs and permanent sources of livelihood),” he said.

Malacañang announced Gadon’s appointment as Presidential Adviser for Poverty Alleviation on Monday.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Gadon will play a pivotal role in advising President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on strategies and policies to combat poverty and improve the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society.

“He will work closely with government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to design and implement comprehensive programs to address the root causes of poverty,” the PCO said.

“His wealth of experience as a corporate executive and legal counsel in diverse sectors, including manufacturing, information technology, realty development, health care, resorts and hotels, construction, and trading, will contribute to the formulation of innovative and sustainable poverty alleviation strategies.”

July has been designated as Nutrition Month in the country via Presidential Decree 491 in 1974 to create greater awareness on the importance of nutrition.

Benjamin Pulta (PNA)