MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the so-called “First 1,000 Days” Law, a measure that seeks to provide health and nutrition services to children during their early days of development.
Signed by the President on Nov. 29, Republic Act 11148, or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act,” shall provide “evidence-based nutrition interventions...as well as nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive mechanisms, strategies, programs and approaches… to eradicate malnutrition and hunger.”
The law also seeks to strengthen and define the roles of the Department of Health, the National Nutrition Council, and other government agencies tasked to implement nutrition programs in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
Under the law, the DOH, NNC, Department of Agriculture, in coordination with relevant government agencies, shall develop a comprehensive and sustainable strategy for the first 1,000 days of life to address the health, nutrition, and developmental problems affecting infants, young children, adolescent females, and pregnant and lactating women.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Save the Children Philippines hailed the enactment of the bill into law saying it will “ensure children from poor families will have access to quality health and nutrition services to help them achieve optimum growth and development.”
At least 95 children below 5 years old die every day due to preventable diseases caused by undernutrition, said Save the Children Philippines CEO Albert Muyot.
Meanwhile, there are some 3.6 million stunted children in the country, while 800,000 are malnourished, the group said, adding that "stunting" is "not a racial and genetic trait but a result of lingering problem of chronic malnutrition among millions of Filipino children."
The law provides birth and nutrition programs for mothers and infants up to two years of age. It also provides community health services support and training for mothers.
Senator Grace Poe, one of the staunchest supporters of the measure, called on her colleagues to support moves to increase the budget of the First 1,000 Days Law in its maiden year of implementation next year.
"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," said Poe, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate.
According to Poe, some P6 billion is needed to fulfill the mandates of the program.