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The Scaling Up Nutrition Philippine Gathering and the Philippine Launch of the 2015 Global Nutrition Report (#SUNMovementPH)


 25-26 January 2016  ?  Bayview Park Hotel, Manila

Welcome Message

Assistant Secretary of Heath Maria-Bernardita T. Flores, CESO II

Executive Director IV           

Undersecretary of Health Nemesio Gako representing our NNC Governing Board Chair Health Secretary Janette Loreto-Garin; Dr. Mario Capanzana, Chair of the NNC Technical Committee, (others based on list from registration group) Dr. Lotta Sylwander, country representative of UNICEF Philippines; Dr. Lawrence Haddad, who I remember once worked with us many years back, friends and colleagues, my fellow public servants, nutrition champions, advocates, ladies and gentlemen. Good morning!

Welcome to this event!  Welcome too to the new year of 2016, an exciting and more challenging times given global and local developments.  Most of all, welcome to an event that we are confident will further scale up action for nutrition.

Thank you to UNICEF for the continued support not only for this event but for the continuing work on nutrition all these years and very recently in doing so in the context of scaling up nutrition particularly by already organizing the SUN UN Network and in supporting Philippine participation in the SUN Global Gatherings, and in more activities to come to help us put nutrition in the center of development.

Thank you Dr. Lawrence Haddad for being with us today.  But, I would like to think that fate allowed it for Dr. Haddad to be in Milan during the Fourth SUN Global Gathering and for the Thailand launch of the Global Nutrition Report to be held last week.  Fate allowed our former colleague from UNICEF, Dr. Paul Zambrano to meet up with Dr. Haddad in London mid-December last year that started the ball rolling for the Philippine launch of the Global Nutrition Report.

But, we would like to complement this fate with more purposive action and so we expanded the launch of the Global Nutrition Report to cover our first national gathering under the ambit of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and our first official encounter with the regions and provinces that will be involved in the Early Child Care and Development Intervention Package for the First 1000 Days or ECCD IP/1000.

Today we convene to reflect over the nagging question of why in our country the decline in the prevalence of child stunting is slow, why child wasting has remained high, why we continue to be challenged with micronutrient deficiencies, and how we can arrest the increase in child and adult overweight, obesity, and noncommunicable diseases.

Our reflection should consider several developments and concerns:  1)  One, that we are ending the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2011-2016 and need to do our best to come as close as possible to the targets we set in 2012;  2)  Two, that we will soon have a new set of national and local elective leaders and with it, the formulation of the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 and necessarily the formulation too of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022, as well as the local nutrition action plans for the coming term of local officials; 3)  Three, the adoption of key global instruments that provide us with a framework against which we can strategize our country actions.  These instruments include the 2025 Global Targets for Improved Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition adopted by the World Health Assembly in 2012 and which are currently being reviewed as I speak at the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva with our Health Secretary and NNC Governing Board Chair Janette Loreto-Garin in attendance; likewise the Framework for Action for the Rome Declaration on Nutrition adopted by member country states of the UN in the 2014 Second International Conference on Nutrition; and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals adopted last September by the UN General Assembly. ; 4) Four, the Philippines voluntarily signed in on the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and was the 51st country to do so; and 5) Five, starting 2016, we will pursue more integrated action for nutrition in the context of early child care and development, involving key health, nutrition, early child care education, social services and other related services for the first 1000 days. 

Our challenge is to consider all these developments and harness them to collectively agree on a common framework for action in the next 7 years. 

The Philippines, starting way back in 1974, prided itself for its multisectoral approach to nutrition and its structure for policy, program, and project coordination at the national level through the National Nutrition Council and at the local level through local nutrition committees.  This, always as a component and in line with national and local development thrusts and with the right to food and good nutrition as overarching inspiration.  Today, we can claim more than 40 years of experience along these lines.  True, there have been many challenges in making these mechanisms functional, but we have continued on.

The principles that guided nutrition action these past 40 years are the very same principles of the global Scaling Up Nutrition or SUN Movement. 

The SUN Movement unites various stakeholders in a COLLECTIVE effort to improve nutrition.  It upholds that TOGETHER and may I emphasize TOGETHER, we can achieve what no single effort could do and make the world better through well-nourished populations.

The SUN approach involves processes, which are not really different from the processes that we use in the Philippines.  These processes involve creating political and operational platforms, incorporating best practices into national policies, aligning actions across sectors, and increasing resources and monitoring implementation.  Precisely the reason why we are all here today. This is a call for us to act together.

After this two-day conference we hope to gain recommendations and consensus on priority actions for 2016 and the next round of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition.  And for this, the Global Nutrition Report that shows our situation in the global context and calls for action provide us with key inputs.

I call on everyone then to continue this journey for good nutrition with us, recognizing that nutrition is not just the concern of one agency or sector.  Nutrition work is all about convergence of efforts and of working together.

Let us take on the paradigm that nutrition is not just an outcome of development, it is an investment, a necessary condition to alleviate poverty and achieve meaningful socio-economic development, a key to development.

May we all continue to serve as each one’s light to deliver the commitments we will agree upon.

Once again, thank you all for coming.  It is a pleasure to welcome you all in this conference!

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay tayong lahat!!!

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