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.
Stunting is irreversible and thus must be prevented with proper nutrition and care in the first 1000 days or the period of conception until the child’s second birthday. Addressing stunting requires all stakeholders to work together to ensure that families have access to nutritious food, have the knowledge and skills to feed their children from locally sourced food, have access to and seek services especially in the first 1000 days as provided in the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act or RA 11148. Fathers and other family members need to support mothers and their infants as well.
The Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022, the country’s blueprint to address malnutrition, aims to reduce stunting from 33.4% in 2015 to 21.4% in 2022. The target is consistent with the Philippine Development Plan, UN Sustainable Development Goals, Global Target on Maternal and Young Child Nutrition.
By raising awareness on stunting, families should be able to understand that stunting is not just a problem of being short but results to poor mental development resulting to poor school performance and low wages as adults. Having taller children enables them to develop to their fullest potential.
With the announcement of the Nutrition Month theme, the NNC encourages national and local governments, NGOs, civil society and communities to plan for the campaign in July and include sustaining activities for the rest of the year.
For more information on how to support the Nutrition Month campaign, please contact the Nutrition Information and Education Division of the NNC.