MANILA, Philippines – Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has asked for a Senate inquiry to determine the reasons behind the “unchanging” patterns of malnutrition in the Philippines.
In a resolution filed on Wednesday, July 8, Angara urged the Senate to tackle the persistent malnutrition situation that burdens a number of Filipinos – especially children – and the problem of food insecurity.
The latest National Nutrition Survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute found that 29.1% of all Filipino children aged 5 to 10 years old are underweight. Meanwhile, 19.9% of children under 5 are undernourished.
Different government agencies directly involved in aspects of food security and nutrition are requested to identify the bottlenecks keeping the country from achieving a well-nourished population, the resolution said.
These agencies should point out the problems related to the various stages of the food value chains such as production, harvesting, and trading, among others.
The inquiry also aims to highlight the importance of governance in eliminating malnutrition and pushing for food security by seeking recommendations – through policies or programs – from the appropriate agencies.
These solutions, however, should pave the way for food and nutrition security despite the various risks the country faces due to climate change and other hazards.
Angara, for his part, has filed the Child Nutrition Act, which aims to establish budgetary allocations to institutionalize feeding programs throughout the public elementary school system. (READ: Bill seeks to make feeding programs regular in public schools)
Food for all
Food insecurity may have decreased in recent years but significant gaps still exist among social classes.
According to the final report of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, the people who still suffer from hunger and malnutrition are found in developing countries. (READ: Poverty, hunger still threaten MDG) Asia alone houses two-thirds of the world’s hungry people.
In addition, a child from the poorest sector is more likely to be undernourished compared to the rest. This may hinder his physical and mental development throughout the years and disable him from achieving full potential.
In the Philippines, latest figures show that even a minimum wage earner may not be getting the right nutrients due to steep prices. (READ: Is the minimum wage enough for a day’s worth of nutritious meals?)
Meanwhile, 7 out of 10 Filipino households do not meet the daily dietary energy requirements.
This is why, Angara noted in the resolution, the government should prioritize making sure food is made very accessible to the poorest population in the country. – Rappler.com
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