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Picture Web Article 5th NS TWG MeetingThe National Nutrition Council (NNC) convened the Nutrition Surveillance - Technical Working Group (NS-TWG) to discuss the Philippine Nutrition Surveillance System (PNSS) or NutriWATCH: Nutrition Winning Actions toward Change.

The NS-TWG is composed of representatives of data-producing- and data-utilizing agencies of the government. The TWG recommends strategies and activities that can improve the system for nutrition statistics, including collection, dissemination and utilization of nutrition information. The TWG’s recommendations and statistical products are for technical vetting by the NNC Technical Committee before they are adopted by the NNC Governing Board. 

The meeting reviewed the updated PNSS Strategic Plan, 2020-2022 and the inventory of nutrition and nutrition-related indicators resulting from the series of interagency workshop and meetings. The document discusses in detail the vision, objectives and strategies and various statistical activities as well as enabling activities and timelines to help achieve the long-term vision of “the PNSS providing information for timely and evidence-based decision-making and actions for nutrition improvement”.  The planned activities by various agency partners are envisioned to help address challenges along data quality, poor dissemination and inadequate data analysis and utilization, among others.

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The NNC Technical Committee in its meeting on 30 January 2020 approved the theme for the 46th Nutrition Month campaign. “Batang Pinoy SANA TALL… Iwas stunting, SAMA ALL!” is the chosen theme for the campaign in July this year to promote awareness and mobilize actions to address stunting.  The theme calls for a collective vision of having taller Filipino children by preventing stunting through the participation of government, non-government organizations, civil society, business, academe, communities and families. 

Stunting or pagkabansot in Filipino, is the impaired growth and development experienced by children due to poor nutrition, repeated infection and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Stunting can lead to low educational performance, lost productivity, increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and even death. The economic cost of stunting is high equivalent to 1.5 to 3% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The chosen theme underscores the urgency of addressing stunting considering that the Philippines is one of the 10 countries with the most stunted children in the world.  Currently, 1 in 3 or 30% of Filipino children 0-59 months old are stunted with stunting highest among 12-23 months at 36.6% (2018 ENNS, DOST-FNRI).  The high prevalence of stunting continues due to the limited scale by which nutrition and related services and programs have been delivered.  This is exacerbated by the fact that many Filipinos believe that stunting is hereditary (namamana) and not an illness.

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The National Nutrition Council, with financial support from Alive and Thrive, participated in the annual meeting of the Codex Committee on Nutrition and Food for Special Dietary Use (CCNFSDU) held in Dusseldorf, Germany from 24-29 November 2019.  The NNC representative, Ms. Strawberry Alberto, was part of the  Philippine delegation that was headed by Ms. Helena Alcaraz of the Food and Drug Administration, and included Ms. Michelle Mendador of the Infant and Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines. 

The annual meeting is authorized by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly established by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The main agenda in CCNFSDU41 was the Review of the Standard for Follow-up Formula (FUF) which was discussed in the first three days of the session.

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The National Nutrition Council is 7th in the most approved government agencies in the recent Pulse Asia survey. The survey on the awareness and performance ratings of selected government agencies was conducted from 3 to 8 December 2019.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Education tied in the first spot at 85 percent, NNC’s mother agency the Department of Health came in second with 83 percent, Department of Public Works and Highways in third place with 82 percent, followed by Armed Forces of the Philippines with 80 percent, Philippine National Police with 77 percent and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council with 72 percent at 6th place.