A BICOL lawmaker yesterday said a law signed recently by President Rodrigo Duterte expanding state health and nutrition programs for women and children covering day one of a mother’s pregnancy up to the child’s first two years will have a lasting positive impact to many generations of Filipinos.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the next generations would grow up better equipped, both physically and mentally, to help sustain the country’s strong economic future.
Villafuerte said Republic Act (RA) No. No. 11148, which aims to ensure that a child gets the right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of development, will also slash healthcare costs for the country’s future governments, as children benefiting from this law will grow up to become healthier and more productive adults.
“This law, on the surface, appears to be a social protection program meant to shield poor mothers and children from malnutrition, but its impact on the economy and our future as a country is extensive. If the law is fully and effectively implemented, we can be assured of future generations of Filipinos who can ably compete in the global economy because they are healthier and smarter,” he said.
This would translate into lower healthcare costs and more funds for the government to spend on other priority concerns such as infrastructure modernization.”
Villafuerte is among the principal authors of the “First 1,000 Days” bill in the House of Representatives.
The first 1,000 days refers to the 270 days of a child inside the mother’s womb up to the time of his or her second birthday.
He said the new law will help President Duterte’s vision of growing the Filipino middle class and transforming the Philippines into a high income economy in one generation or by 2040.
The lawmaker said the “First 1000 Days Law” will reverse the alarming malnutrition rate responsible for countless deaths or stunted growths of Filipino babies and ensure their healthy brain development while inside their mothers’ wombs.
RA No. 11148 or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act,” he said, “aims to provide comprehensive, sustainable multi-sectoral strategies and approaches to address health and nutrition problems of newborns, infants and young children, pregnant and lactating women and adolescent females, as well as multi-factoral issues that negatively affect the development of newborns, infants and young children, integrating the short, medium and long-term plans of the government to end hunger, improve health and nutrition, and reduce malnutrition.”
“With this law, we can significantly reduce cases of malnutrition and, in the long run, end the cycle of malnourished women giving birth to malnourished daughters, who, in turn, grow up to become malnourished mothers themselves,” said Villafuerte.
President Duterte signed RA No. 11148 into law on Nov. 29 last year.
The law mandates the Departments of Health (DoH) and Agriculture (DA) along with the National Nutrition Council (NNC), in coordination with other state agencies and local government units, to formulate national nutrition policies, plans, strategies and approaches for the nutrition improvement, including, strategies on women, infant and young child, and adolescent nutrition.