$178.1 million World Bank loan approved to fight malnutrition in the Philippines

The headquarters of the World Bank is seen in Washington, DC on May 25, 2022. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Washington-based multilateral lender, the World Bank, has approved the Philippines’ request for a $178.1 million loan aimed at addressing malnutrition and stunting in the country, its board confirmed on Tuesday. Tuesday, June 22.

The multi-sector nutrition project in the Philippines, which would be implemented under the universal health coverage initiative of the Ministry of Health, will provide nutritional support and health services to combat stunting in children aged age two and under in 235 municipalities and local government units (LGUs) with high incidences of poverty and malnutrition.

“The persistence of high levels of child undernutrition in the Philippines, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, could lead to a significant increase in inequality of opportunity in the country,” said Ndiame Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines. , and Thailand.

Diop also stressed that investing in the nutritional status of children would be essential for the future prosperity of the country, so that these children grow strong and are more likely to possess the nutritional capacity to be economically productive.

“Where healthy children may do well in school and hope for a prosperous future, stunted children tend to be sickly, learn less, more likely to drop out of school and their Economic productivity in adulthood can be reduced by more than 10% in their lifetime”. lifetime. Therefore, improving the nutritional status of children is critical to the country’s goals of boosting human capital while strengthening the country’s economic recovery and long-term growth prospects,” he added.

The program, according to the Washington-based multilateral lender, would benefit households with pregnant women and children under the age of two through “high-impact nutrition interventions,” which would include infant and young child feeding, a regular monitoring of their growth, multiple micronutrient supplements for children aged 6 to 23 months, iron and folic acid supplementation, support for pregnant women at nutritional risk through food supplementation and treatment of moderate to severe acute malnutrition.

It will provide performance-based grants to local LGUs for the provision of predefined nutrition, maternal and child services, and improvements in local-level planning and budgeting for nutrition projects.

The project will also aim to support behavior change campaigns, such as handwashing with soap, easier access to improved sanitation and clean water, early childhood care and development, childcare development programs focused on nutrition and access to country social protection programs such as from the Ministry of Social Welfare and Development Pantawid Pamilya or 4P.

Interventions will particularly focus on the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which is a critical period in children’s development, according to the World Bank’s senior nutrition specialist in the East Asia region. East and Pacific, Nkosinathi Mbuya.

“Undernutrition and exposure to risk and adversity in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can disrupt cognitive, emotional and physical development and prevent children from reaching their full potential, thus affecting the formation of the country’s human capital,” Mbuya said.

“Therefore, interventions to improve nutritional outcomes need to focus on this age group and women of reproductive age,” Mbuya added.

The protracted war between Russia and Ukraine poses a great challenge to the country’s food and nutrition security, especially for Filipino households. Therefore, prompt and effective action would be essential to alleviate, if not completely eradicate, hunger and malnutrition in the country. .

Marvin Joseph Ang is a creative news writer who follows developments in politics, democracy and popular culture. He pleads for a free press and a national democracy. The opinions expressed are his own.

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