LEGAZPI CITY – Cases of child stunting in all the provinces of the Bicol region have significantly decreased amid the prevailing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) here reported on Monday.
Arlene Reario, the NNC-Bicol regional coordinator, explained that this is an offshoot of previous interventions implemented by concerned government agencies, particularly local governments, in the past years.
“It does not mean that because the decrease takes place or recorded in 2020 because of the nutrition interventions this year. It could be due to the previous programs too but only paid off this year,” Reario told the Philippine News Agency.
Data from NNC-Bicol show that Albay posted the lowest percentage of child stunting with 14 percent in 2019 and 12 percent in 2020, or with a 2 percent drop; followed by Camarines Norte with 15.8 percent in 2019 and 14.9 percent in 2020, or with 0.9 percent drop; Sorsogon with 17.1 percent in 2019 and 15.7 percent in 2020, or a drop of 1.4 percent; and Masbate with 21.2 percent in 2019 and 18.6 percent, with a significant decrease of 2.6 percent.
Catanduanes posted 22.5 percent in 2019 and 19.2 percent in 2020, with 3.3 percent, the biggest drop in all provinces; and Camarines Sur with 23.5 percent in 2019 and 21.3 percent this year, or a notable 2.2 percent decrease in child stunting in Bicol’s biggest and most populous province.
Overall, Bicol has posted an over 2 percent average drop in child stunting cases, or from 19.0617 percent in 2019 to 16.95 percent this year.
Reario said that one of the factors that could have significantly contributed to the decrease in child stunting cases is breastfeeding as preferred by most mothers over bottle feeding.
“We are glad at NNC to note that Bicol posts a high percentage in breastfeeding,” she said.
She explained that the most effective way to prevent stunting is to breastfeed the child during his/her first 2,000 days from birth.
“This is because the milk of the mother contains the needed nutrients that a child needs to have a complete body development,” Reario said.
She added that supplemental interventions as the child grows including supplemental feeding, giving nutritious food, and good hygiene could help prevent stunting. (PNA)