An Act to protect Filipino mothers and their children from malnutrition by establishing a maternal and child health care program in every barangay appropriating funds for the purpose.
The Philippines has made significant strides in putting in place a holistic and
institutionalized approach in ensuring the overall well-being of mothers and their
children. In fact, within the last seven years alone, Congress has legislated laws that
seek to comprehensively improve the lives of women and their children. .
The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act which guarantees
universal access to methods on contraception, fertility control, sexual education, and
maternal care was passed in 2012 1 .The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act was
passed in 2009 2 . The Mandatory Infants and Children Health Immunization Act was
passed in 2010 3 .
Despite these pieces of legislation and other interventions devised by the
national government, the Philippines still fell short in achieving the erstwhile
Millennium Development Goal 4 especially those pertinent to reducing maternal
casualty and death in childbirth 5 .
In fact, the UNFPA Philippines published that the country’s goal of achieving its target in terms of reducing death during pregnancy seems unachievable. 6
This glaring fact is the raison d’etre of this proposed measure.
The first 1,000 days of a child’s life is most critical for growth and
development. Consequently, hunger and poor nutrition during this period can have
irreversible consequences. Talking during the Maldives National Nutrition
Conference 2015, WHO Representative Dr. Arvind Mathur said that the worst
damages of malnutrition happen during pregnancy and early childhood – from
conception to two years, i.e. the first 1000 days. The WHO Representative
highlighted that malnutrition during this period produces long term and inter-
generational problem with major economic and developmental implications 7.
As above mentioned, the first 1,000 days is the period that begins with day
one of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s 2nd birthday. The brain and nervous
system development begins early in pregnancy and is largely complete by the time
the child reaches the age of 2. The damage to health, physical growth and brain
development of infants affected by chronic under-nutrition can cause stunting.
Smaller than their non-stunted peers, stunted children are more susceptible to
sickness and have lower chances of finishing school. They enter adulthood more
prone to non-communicable disease and are less productive.
Malnutrition is responsible for almost half of all deaths of children under age 5;
virtually all of these deaths are preventable. Nearly 170 million children have had the
growth of their young bodies and brains stunted by chronic malnutrition. Women who
are poorly nourished throughout their lives are at greater risk of complications during
pregnancy and death during childbirth. The damage caused by poor nutrition early in
life can be irreversible 8 .
In the Philippines alone, data show a large numbers of Filipino children are
undernourished: 3.6 million of children 0-59 months are underweight; and 4 million
The latest National Nutrition Survey showed that overall malnutrition or
stunting rate for Filipino children aged 0 to 2 was at its worst in the last 10 years at
26.2 percent in 2015—an indication that growth was not inclusive and that inequality
between the rich and the poor continued to widen. The 2015 data from the Food and
Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) also revealed that one in every two children in the
poorest quin tiles was stunted or whose height was below the World Health Organization (WHO) reference for his age. The rate also jumped by almost three
percentage points from 30.5 percent in 2013 among those under 5 years old. 9
This bill seeks to establish a mother and child health care program in every
barangay, in order to protect mothers and children from malnutrition. Maternal
nutrition is vital because the health of the mother while pregnant, affects the
development of the fetus. It is an imperative to provide prenatal and postnatal
maternity care services to a pregnant woman in order to protect her health as well as
ensure the nutritional diet of her newborn child. The program shall include early and
exclusive breastfeeding; timely, safe, appropriate and high-quality complementary
food; and appropriate micro nutrient interventions.
The program content of this proposed measure is key to reducing if not totally
eliminating malnutrition in the country. Hence, immediate approval of this bill is
2 Republic Act No. 10028
3 Republic Act No. 10152
4 In September 2000, member states of the United Nations (UN) gathered at the Millennium Summit to affirm commitments towards reducing poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation. The Summit adopted the UN Millennium Declaration which embodies specific targets and milestones in eliminating extreme poverty worldwide.
To help track progress in the attainment of the 8 goals and 18 targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) over the period 1990 to 2015, experts from the United Nations Secretariat and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank identified and selected a set of time-bound and measurable indicators. Data series on the 48 MDG indicators are compiled to provide the basis for the preparation of progress reports by member states of the United Nations (UN) on the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration.
5 MDG 4 on Reducing Child Mortality and MDG 5 on Improving Maternal Health
7 http://www.searo.who.int/maldives/mediacentre/national-nutrition- conference-2015/en/
8 http://www.hmhb.org/2014/03/1000-days- matter/
LUIS RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR.