SENATORS on Monday unanimously approved on third and final reading a bill that will expand the country’s nutrition and health programs for mothers and children, specifically during the child’s first 1,000 days of life.
Senate Bill 1537 or the “Healthy Nanay and Bulilit Act,” was sponsored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, and co-sponsored by Sen. Grace Poe.
Poe said the first 1,000 days of a child’s life refers to the period that “begins with day one of a woman’s pregnancy until the baby’s second birthday.”
“Malnourishment of the mother and the child will affect the development of the brain, the functions of our organs, and even our temperament. Damage during this period, is found to be irreversible,” she said.
The senator said the bill would help address the need to scale up nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life of a child, “and ensure that the fight against malnutrition must be a priority of both the national and the local government.”
Under the bill, the government will give priority to the nutrition of pre-pregnant, pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children, to be implemented in an integrated manner by all branches of government.”
It strengthens the enforcement of the Milk Code and the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 which promote optimal infant and young child feeding and maternity protection.
“While the rest of the world is growing taller, so to speak, the Philippines will remain stunted if we do not act fast to solve malnutrition–which will prove costlier to society in terms of loss of productivity, than the P17 billion budget it will entail to implement this 1,000 days program,” Recto said.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, co-sponsor of the bill, said the measure would help curb maternal deaths.
“It is our vision to inculcate prevention through a targeted approach and interventions provided at the different life stages of a child,” Ejercito said.
Hontiveros said that multiple studies show that poor nutrition is harmful to children and mothers.
“The effects of undernourishment during the first 1,000 days do not stop at childhood, and unfortunately, the children suffer from this damage even when they become adults,” she said.
Stunting or the failure to grow to proper height has been shown to be associated with greater risk for disease, poor health, poor school performance, poor productivity and lower earning capacity as adults.