LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 2 (PNA) -- Even as the month of July -- which was Nutrition Month -- has ended, health authorities in Albay province continued to intensify their campaign to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition and stunting (short for their age) among children as they believe proper nutrition should be a priority in the everyday lives of mothers.
Legazpi City Health Officer Dr. Fulbert Gillego, in a conference of pregnant women here, enjoined all local government units to hold a massive campaign addressing malnutrition among babies, pregnant and lactating mothers.
He said this year’s celebration of Nutrition Month, which highlighted the first 1,000 days (33 months or almost three years) of a child’s life, focused on the theme: "First 1,000 days ni baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan.” Nurture your baby’s first 1,000 days for a healthy future).
Gillego said breastfeeding must be done by a mother for the first six months (around 180 days) of a baby’s life.
He said during this period “a baby should not be given any solid or supplemental food by the mother.”
A mother can give supplemental food to her child “only after six months,” he added.
“But she (the mother) should not stop breastfeeding for at least two years and beyond,” explained Gillego.
Health and nutrition experts deem the first 1,000 days as the “golden window of opportunity” for a comprehensive package of nutrition and related interventions to achieve significant changes in reducing malnutrition and stunting.
Gillego explained to mothers during the pregnancy convention that breastfeeding protects the baby against diseases as breastmilk is easily digested. He said mother’s milk does not cause constipation, diarrhea or upset stomach.
He added breastfed babies have healthier weights as they grow and score higher in IQ tests.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for at least the first two years of life as it is crucially important to both the health of mothers and children.
It underscores that breastmilk is the preferred and most appropriate source of nutrition for infants.
“The Philippines tops the countries in Southeast Asia region with the prevalence of wasted children (underweight) at 7.9 percent and critical levels of stunting (short for their age) at 30.3 percent,” said the 2016 Global Nutrition Report.
The report was cited by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) of the Philippines in its website, to underscore that despite the declining level of child malnutrition in the country due to significant nutrition initiatives, “malnutrition remains an important public health concern among children.”
For its part, the NNC- Bicol, also in its website, said that it “continuously promotes exclusive breastfeeding,” in its advocacies.
One of these is to seek support from particular government agencies so bus operators in the Bicol region would “designate a breastfeeding seat or breastfeeding corner inside their buses and terminals”.
The move, NNC-Bicol added, is in support of Republic Act (RA) 10028, otherwise known as the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.”
RA 10028 mandates all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions, including public places, to provide breastfeeding stations for lactating women/nursing mothers or workers. (PNA) LAP/GVR/MDR/CBD