Duterte signs law to institutionalize national feeding program

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DAVAO CITY (July 5) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday signed the law institutionalizing a national feeding program for undernourished Filipino children in public schools.

Duterte signed the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act or R.A 11037, last June 29, which is aimed at addressing the problem of undernourishment among Filipino children in day care centers, kindergarten, and elementary schools.

The  act is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1279 and House Bill No. 5269 which was approved on Mar. 20, 2018.

Under the law, the government shall provide a supplemental feeding program for day care children, a school-based feeding program for public school children from kinder to Grade 6, a milk-feeding program, a micronutrient feeding program, health examinations, vaccinations, and deworming among others.

The government should also encourage schools to devote a portion of land or space for the cultivation of vegetables and other nutrient-rich plants.

Water, sanitation, hygiene, and an integrated nutrition education, behavioral transformation, and social mobilization should also be in place to promote a holistic and integrated approach to health and nutrition education.

The law also includes the creation of a National Nutrition Information System which will harmonize all existing national and local nutrition databases to identify individuals, groups, and/or localities that have the highest magnitude of hunger and undernutrion.

The same law encourages the active participation of the private sectors.

Various surveys and  studies pointed out, the need for concerted multi-sectoral efforts to ensure that no Filipino child goes hungry and that they all get adequate amounts of nutrients.

In 2017, government report showed, an estimated 7 million children across the Philippines experienced  hunger and malnutrition, painting, a sad reality besetting  Filipino children.

Despite gargantuan budget on health,  the need to address public health problem is largely driven by inadequate access to nutritious food, lack of nutrition education, and poor health and sanitation services.

With an institutionalized feeding program, the government expect a unified approach in responding to the problem.

During his time as City Mayor in Davao City, Duterte dedicated portion of his fund for the feeding program of the public school learners and distributed fresh milk to various day care centers and public elementary schools.

Duterte said a hungry child cannot actively participate in any school activities, a reason why he pushed signed the law to institutionalize the country’s feeding program.-Editha Z. Caduaya/NewsLine.ph

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