Food, education, healthcare leading problems during pandemic

August 15, 2020

FOR over five months, COVID-19 has affected millions of Filipinos nationwide.

World Vision, an international child-focused humanitarian agency, recently conducted a study focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of Filipino children and their families. Results revealed that the top three critical problems the Filipino families face: food security, education, and access to healthcare.

The rapid assessment, participated by respondents from affected communities nationwide, aimed to capture the impact of COVID-19 on children and their families, especially living in poor and vulnerable conditions.

According to the study, 92 percent of households reported that their livelihoods have been disrupted, including 61 percent who were either fully or severely affected by the pandemic.

Daily wage workers are the hardest hit. Notably, 71 percent have reported loss of jobs or reduction of income, further affecting the poor families' capacity to meet basic needs such as food security.

Report also revealed the coping mechanisms adapted by most families to survive such as borrowing money from others (24%), using their own savings (24%), or reducing the quantity and quality of their meals (24%).

A 34 percent decrease in the average food expenses of families were recorded while on the quarantine period. According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), a family of six would need at least P2,200 each week to meet food needs. In the survey, 68 percent expressed they could not meet the ideal minimum spending to feed their families.

The gap in access to basic health care services has drastically grown, increasing the risk of maternal and child morbidity. Notably, only 25 percent of the household survey respondents were able to meet the health care and medical expenses of household members, including children. COVID-19 is also triggering mental health issues with 6% of the surveyed households reporting severe stress.

The COVID-19 pandemic also made an impact to the physical and psychological well-being of the children. Eighty-four percent of the children feel worried for themselves and their families while 42 percent of parents or guardians have used physical or psychological punishment.

As education is also one of the most affected sectors of the pandemic, the report also shows important data to consider. The report reveals that 89 percent of children anticipate challenges on the use of online platform, 21 percent of children are either unwilling or unsure to attend school (face-to-face or blended learning) when classes start on August 24, and most importantly, 38 percent of children respondents do not have access to the internet.

Among the recommendations of World Vision to the national and local governments are to:

- Invest in income-generating livelihood and enterprise and strengthen and support food security interventions;

- Support medical facilities with personal protective equipment (PPEs) and support the improvement of water and handwashing facilities and promotion of hand hygiene practices.

“We hope and pray that this report may provide additional inputs as key government agencies develop action plans that respond to the needs of Filipino children and their families,” said World Vision national director Rommel Fuerte.