Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles is worried that stunting and malnutrition among children will get worse due to hunger and lack of nutrition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Facebook Live video Saturday, Nograles said the Task Force on Zero Hunger, which he heads, is focusing on addressing stunting and malnutrition among children because it will have a long term effect if left unattended.
“Ito ‘yung aming tinututukan ngayon kasi pagka-stunted ‘yung bata ibig sabihin kulang ‘yung kain, ‘yung nutritional intake niya kaya hindi siya lumalaki, hindi siya tumataas at magiging effect po niya long-term (This is what we’re focusing on right now. When a kid is stunted, it means he’s not taking in much nutrition that’s why he’s not growing. This will have a long-term effect),” he said.
Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Usually, a stunted kid has a low height for their age.
Based on the 2019 data from the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DoST-FNRI), 28.8 percent of children of up to 59 months old are stunted, this is lower compared to the 30.3 percent recorded in 2018.
Despite the decrease, Nograles said he was worried that the number may increase again due to limited access to nutritious food because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Actually, pababa rin nang pababa ‘yun. Pero again, ang kinatatakutan nga namin dahil sa COVID eh maaaring umakyat uli ‘yan kaya kailangan talaga ng intervention (Actually, the number is going down but then again, we fear that this may climb up again because of the pandemic. That’s why we really need to set up an intervention),” he said.
Nograles explained that kids aged 0 to two-years-old should get enough nutrition since this is the time for their rapid brain development.
“Kung kulang ang kinakain ng bata at hindi masustansiya ‘yung kinakain ng bata, ‘yung brain development niya hindi mama-maximize (If the kid is not eating nutritious food, his brain development will not be maximized) to its full potential,” he said.
“Kung ganoon ang mangyayari – sabi ng mga doctor, mga scientist, mga nutritionist, irreversible na raw ‘yan. Hindi mo maaagapan ‘yan kasi dito dapat yung intervention mo sa time na may rapid growth development ‘yung bata (Doctors, scientists, and nutritionists are saying that if that happens, it will be irreversible. We need to address it at the time when the kid’s growth develops rapidly),” he added.