By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Sen. Grace Poe urged her colleagues in Senate to provide adequate funding for the implementation of the newly signed Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act.
Poe, one of the authors and cosponsor of the law — which she continues to dub as First 1000 Days — made the appeal Monday as she lamented the huge cuts in the Department of Health’s (DOH) 2019 budget, which would be slashed by P35 billion to P74.1 billion from its P109.8-billion allocation this year.
The National Nutrition Council (NNC)’s fund also suffered a reduction in its 2019 budget, from P300 million this year, to P118 million.
But Poe said the program needs at least P6 billion to fulfill its promise of effectively addressing malnutrition among mothers and their newborn children.
“Just like an infant, the future of this new law — whether or not it fulfills its mandate — lies in the first 1,000 days of its implementation. Without sufficient funding, the law cannot fulfill the program’s objectives of scaling down undernutrition and improving the health of mothers and infants,” Poe said in a statement.
“Dapat nating suportahan ang ganitong programa dahil mas malaki ang gagastusin ng pamahalaan kapag dumami pa ang nagugutom at kulang sa nutrisyon (We should support this program because the government could spend more if the number of those suffering hunger and lacking in nutrition spike),” she said.
The law provides for nutritional supplement to women and infants which includes vaccination, deworming, vitamin A drops, iron and food supplement to improve nutrition and prevent and manage malnutrition.
The DOH, NNC, Department of Agriculture, in coordination with other state agencies and local government units, are mandated to develop a comprehensive strategy for the first 1,000 days of life.
Poe said she would introduce amendments in the budget of the DOH, particularly on the First 1,000 Days program, in the Senate’s deliberation of the P3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019.
Meanwhile, Poe thanked President Duterte for approving and for “recognizing the importance of this law.”
Sen. Joel Villanueva, also a co-author, likewise welcomed the signing of the RA 11148.
“We laud the President’s signing into law our measure that seeks to prevent malnutrition in our country by providing the necessary health and nutrition services for prepregnant, pregnant, lactating women, infants and young children,” he said in a social media post on Monday.