MANILA - The Philippines fell to 104th spot among 175 countries in the global ranking of best and worst countries for children to grow up, the latest report of Save the Children revealed Thursday.
The Philippines dropped eight places from last year's 96th rank despite economic development due to a rise in malnutrition and stunting, which now affects more than 1 in 3 children under the age of five across the country, the aid agency said.
The Philippines performed poorly on 3 different indicators: teenage childbearing, severe malnutrition, and under-5 mortality, according to the report.
“It’s really disappointing to see the Philippines slide backwards in the index, and to see an increase in stunting levels among children under 5 when so much work is being done to try to improve nutrition standards and reverse the trend,” Save the Children Philippines CEO Alberto Muyot said.
“This situation is exactly why we need to see the ‘First 1,000 Days’ bill pass and become enshrined in Filipino law, and start to help ensure that all children and pregnant women, especially the poorest, have access to proper healthcare and nutrition."
In March, the Senate approved on third reading the Healthy Nanay and Bulilit Act, which seeks to provide comprehensive health care program covering the 9 months of a woman's pregnancy and her child's first two years.
Meanwhile, Singapore and Slovenia ranked first in the index, followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.
The bottom 10 countries are comprised of West, East and Central African nations, with Niger ranking last for the second time in a row.
The report found that:
• More than half of all children globally—over 1.2 billion—are threatened by conflict, widespread poverty or discrimination against girls.
• More than 1 billion children live in countries plagued by poverty; at least 240 million in countries affected by conflict and fragility; and more than 575 million girls live in countries where gender bias is a serious issue.
• Almost 153 million children are living in 20 countries affected by all three threats—including South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
The index ranks countries where childhood is most and least threatened as a result of poor health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy and extreme violence.