Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Friday, July 1, 2016

DOH: Nutrition Month celebration stresses on maternal and infant nutrition

By Julius Embile

LEGAZPI CITY, July 1 (PIA) – To address the problem of maternal or infant malnutrition, the Department of Health’s National Nutrition Council (DOH-NCC) spearheads this year’s celebration of the “National Nutrition Month” this July by focusing on maternal and neonatal health.

With the theme “First 1000 Days ni Baby, Pangalagaan at Pahalagahan”, the said celebration aims to develop necessary health awareness of mothers, pregnant women, and newborns. This stresses the fundamentality of health and formative importance of a child from the first day of conception until their second birthday.

According to DOH-NCC, the first 1000 days of a child’s life is the “golden opportunity” for intervention in order to achieve the maximum potential for growth and development. The department aims to achieve this by advocating for increased investments in scaling-up the nutrition and relative intervention for the said formative period of infants.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies babies with a weight at birth of 2.5 kilograms as those with low birth weight, which is a result of lack of preterm birth or fetal development due to poor maternal care or malnutrition, results to low birth weight.

As per the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), data shows 25.1% of infants with mothers aged 20 years and below, 20.2% of infants with mothers between ages of 20 and 34, and 24.2% of infants with mothers aged between 35 and 49, have low birth weight.

In all maternal age group, this means 1 in 4 babies in the Philippines have low birth weight. What alarms the DOH is that it is a significant increase of low birth rate infants. Compared to the previous data collected in 2008, the number increased from 21.0% to 23.2%.

Based on the data collected by the National Nutrition Survey (NNS) from 2008 to 2015, there is a consistent prevalence of stunting in children from 6-10 months old up to two years old. The latest data of NNs for 2016 shows that stunting is most prevalence among two-year old children, as it affect 2 out of 5 children in the Philippines (38.4%).

For the matter of maternal health, health experts have also expressed concern regarding underweight pregnant women. According to experts, women who are underweight before and during pregnancy, or those of small stature, are at risk of pregnancy related complications. According to DOH, 1 out of 4, or 24.8% of pregnant women in the Philippines are nutritionally at risk.

To answer these issues of infant and pregnancy malnutrition, the 2016 National Nutrition Month campaign targets improved awareness of proper maternal nutrition and infant feeding practices, particularly exclusive breastfeeding and use of appropriate complementary food for the first six months of infants. To ensure this objective is achieved, DOH-NCC looks to intensify the promotion of collaborative efforts among stakeholder in serving pregnant women and babies below two-years old.

In line with the said advocacy, DOH has called upon the support of local government units, line agencies and other stakeholders to show support in the campaign for improved health awareness. LGUs are encouraged to put streamers or posters of the Nutrition Month celebration in order to let the people know of the on-going efforts for maternal and infant nutrition. (MAL/JBE/PIA-5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3301467591546/doh-nutrition-month-celebration-stresses-on-maternal-and-infant-nutrition#sthash.zYVCD7vs.dpuf

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