by Tara Yap
Iloilo City — The Philippines has one of the highest rates of stunted children in Southeast Asia, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial said a 2015 survey found that one in every three Filipino children suffer from stunted growth.
Speaking at the recent launching of Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022 in Iloilo City, Ubial said the stunting growth rate is at 33.4 percent, way above the rate in other Southeast Asian countries which is less than 20 percent.
PPAN, which is implemented by DOH’s National Nutrition Council (NNC), aims to reduce malnutrition of Filipino children, which leads to stunting.
Ubial also said the status of the country’s nutrition report since the Philippine Nutrition Plan was drafted in 1974.
She said stunting was reduced from 44.5 percent in 1989 to 33.4 percent in 2015.
The underweight rate of Filipino children was 21.5 percent in 2016 as compared to 27.3 percent in 1989.
Ubial said malnutrition needs to be addressed, because it affects not only the children’s future, but the economic future of the country as well.
“The Philippines will never get out of the quagmire of poverty, ill health, poor nutrition without targeted intervention,” she noted.
Also present during the PPAN launching were NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernadita T. Flores, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. and NNC-6 Regional Coordinator Nona B. Tad-y.