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Strong healthcare to prevent deaths of newborn and young children urged

SAVE the Children Philippines is calling for the effective implementation of Republic Act No. 11148 “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act” that provides life-saving healthcare, services, and resources to pregnant and lactating mothers and newborn babies to fulfill the rights of every child to health and survival, protection, and development.

Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines lamented the untimely death of three-month old baby River, daughter of jailed activist Reina Mae Nasino, who succumbed to pneumonia and complications from diarrhea last October 9, 2020.

Every child has a right to survive, and the government has the obligation to do all it can to support parents and guardians in providing healthcare and nutrition, particularly access to breastmilk, so children will not die of preventable causes,” said Muyot.

R.A. 11148 also known as First 1,000 Days Law guarantees the right of every child to access exclusive breastfeeding during the first hour of birth up to six months, and continuous breastfeeding up to two years.

Baby River was reportedly born underweight and has weak lungs. She has the right to get access to proper health and nutrition, including breastmilk, even if her mother is a person deprived of civil liberty,” said Muyot.

Dr. Amado Parawan, Health and Nutrition Advisor of Save the Children Philippines, said the death of baby River could have been prevented through early recognition of the signs and symptoms of acute respiratory distress syndrome such as fever, cough, and difficulty of breathing. Severe cases of pneumonia and diarrhea should be referred promptly and given the appropriate care at the nearest health facility by trained health care providers.

The First 1,000 Days law, seeks to implement quality essential maternal, neonatal, and child health and nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life – which covers the period from conception to two years old through multi-sectoral participation and sustained support from local government units (LGUs), government agencies, and civil society organizations.

Breastmilk is considered as the first vaccine for babies since it provides many anti-bodies against diseases. Babies should not be separated from their mothers so that breastfeeding will be initiated early and for exclusive breastfeeding to be successful. This is the reason why rooming-in is encouraged and skin-to-skin is promoted under the Unang Yakap program of the Department of Health,” said Parawan.

The Philippines marks its 30th year of ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and the government, implementing agencies have the obligation to fulfill the rights of every child to survival, protection, and development, to have access to health and education even in times of emergencies, and protection from all forms of abuses, exploitation, and violence.

Save the Children Philippines has advocated the enactment of the First 1,000 Days to fulfill the rights of every child to survive, to grow healthy, and to have a future.