SENATORIAL candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said yesterday the next administration should implement a comprehensive program to solve widespread hunger and malnutrition in the country.
Romualdez issued the statement following the release of the results of a survey conducted by the Food Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) last year that said the prevalence of stunting among children under five years rose to 33.4 percent while wasting is pegged at 21.5 percent and underweight at 7.1 percent.
Save the Children, an international NGO, said the Philippines posted the “worst increase” in malnutrition rate with one in two Filipino children considered stunted or short for their age.
“I find it very disturbing that many Filipino children suffer from hunger and malnutrition. We cannot let this situation continue,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez said that while he supports feeding programs in public schools, this should be complemented by other interventions by government agencies, the private sector and civil society.
“Feeding programs only address hunger; it does not address the malnutrition problem. What we need is an effective program that could include promotion of breastfeeding, complementary feeding, vitamin and iron supplementation, treatment of acute malnutrition, and maternal nutrition,” he explained.
The next administration could also consider expanding the scope of the conditional cash transfer to include an anti-malnutrition component to demonstrate the government’s malasakit or compassion for children, Romualdez said.
Child advocates have suggested that the next administration should consider the “First 1000 Days” program where high impact nutrition interventions could be implemented among pregnant mothers and their newborns from the time of conception to the first two years of the child’s life.
Romualdez is running for the Senate on a platform of compassionate governance that includes jobs, health, education and disaster resilience.