A neophyte solon from Northern Mindanao is pushing a bill that will create a mandatory national child nutrition program to help combat malnutrition in the country.
In filing House Bill 1548 titled An Act Providing for a Mandatory National Child Nutrition Program in all Public Elementary Schools and Barangay Day Care Centers, Congresswoman Juliette Uy (2nd District, Misamis Oriental) said that “malnutrition is still one big public health problem for our people, affecting seven out of 10 children based on the national nutrition survey in 2008.”
The said survey, conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), revealed that there is a prevalence of underweight children aged 0-5 years (3.35 million); a 27.9 percent rate of under-height children (3.57 million); and a significant increase in the prevalence of underweight children aged 6-10 years from 22.8 percent in 2005 to 25.6 percent in 2008 (2.6 million). The number of under-height children in this age group likewise increased from 32 percent to 33.1 percent.
“According to the FNRI, chronic malnutrition affects a very high percentage of schoolchildren in 25 provinces, including Abra, Aurora, Mindoro Occidental, Mindoro Oriental, Marinduque, Catanduanes, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Leyte, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Basilan,” Congw. Uy said.
“Malnutrition, like many other health problems of our nation, is the result of many factors. This bill aims to seriously address malnutrition by making our schools and barangay day care centers provide good education and nutrition at the same time by institutionalizing a mandatory child nutrition program in all and public elementary schools and barangay day care centers “that is comprehensive, integrative and sustainable with national funding,” Uy added.
Under HB 1548, the funds for the establishment, maintenance and operation of the mandatory child nutrition program shall be sourced from ten percent (10%) from the recorded income of the government’s general fund accruing from interest on deposit accounts and performance bonds and any forfeited amounts therefrom.
“This is a long term proposed program that aims to achieve improved child attendance and survival rates in day care centers and public schools by ensuring that adequate health and nutrition programs are accessible to young children throughout the year,” Uy said.
HB 1548 is now pending with the Committee on Basic Education and Culture and is co-authored by 34 other representatives across parties in the 16th Congress namely Reps. Czarina Umali (Nueva Ecija), Josephine Lacson-Noel (Malabon), Ma. Georgina De Venecia (Pangasinan), Jorge Banal (Quezon City), Maria Zenaida Angping (Manila), Danilo Ramon Fernandez (Laguna), Maria Vida Bravo (Masbate), Eleonor Bulut-Begtang (Apayao), Lani Mercado-Revilla, (Cavite), Imelda Marcos (Ilocos Norte), Ma. Theresa Bonoan (Manila), Maria Jocelyn Bernos (Abra), Rose Marie Arenas (Pangasinan), Scott Davies Lanete (Masbate), Emil Ong (Northern Samar), Sergio Apostol (Leyte), Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu), Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (Leyte), Ruby Sahali (Tawi-Tawi), Henry Oaminal (Misamis Occidental), Arnulfo Go (Sultan Kudarat), Seth Jalosjos (Zamboanga Del Norte), Victor Yu (Zamboanga Del Sur), Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Camiguin), Maria Valentina Plaza (Agusan Del Sur), Mercedes Cagas (Davao Del Sur), Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan De Oro City), Maria Carmen Zamora (Compostela Valley), Emmanuel Pacquiao (Saranggani), Maryam Arbison (Sulu), Belma Cabilao (Zamboanga Sibugay), Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba (Bukidnon), Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo (Lanao Del Norte), Julieta Cortuna (A-Teacher Party-List), and Silvestre Bello III (1-BAP Party-List).