(by Dang Samson Garcia)

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go backed the country’s five-year plan to combat malnutrition, especially among children.

Go described the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition or PPAN 2023 – 2028 as a pivotal advancement in the country’s battle against malnutrition.

“Ang paglulunsad ng PPAN 2023-2028 ay patunay sa ating kolektibong hangarin na itaas ang kalidad ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga bata,” Go said.

The program outlines a comprehensive approach to tackle malnutrition, focusing on three major interventions: increasing the availability and access to nutritious food, promoting social and behavioral change for better feeding practices, and improving access to quality nutrition services.

These interventions include the establishment of food gardens, regulation of unhealthy food, offering maternal health service packages, and integrated maternal and child health nutrition services.

The plan has identified 34 provinces as priority areas for these interventions, including Leyte, Sulu, Negros Occidental, and many others.

The senator also said that this initiative must build upon the solid foundation laid by the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte in addressing hunger and malnutrition while overcoming the adverse effects of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, who also chairs the National Nutrition Council Governing Board, emphasized the importance of nutrition in the early stages of life.

“Nutrition is most critical in the first 1,000 days of life — from day one of pregnancy and up to the second year of birth of a child. If left neglected, poor nutrition results in child stunting, which is irreversible, and more importantly, poor brain development,” Herbosa said.

Go echoed Herbosa’s sentiments, saying that the problem of malnutrition should not be neglected because if unsolved the problem could lead to a lifetime of challenges.

Under the Duterte administration, the government enacted several laws and launched various programs aimed at combating malnutrition.

Among these were the School-Based Feeding Program, which provided nutritious meals to undernourished public school children, and Republic Act No. 11148 or the First 1,000 Days law, which focused on maternal and child health during the earliest days of life.