ILOILO City – The prevalence of undernutrition among preschool children in Western Visayas slightly dropped – from 4.77 percent in 2017 to 4.03 in 2018, according to Antique’s Gov. Rhodora Cadiao, chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC).
Cadiao urged the National Nutrition Council and local government units to continue efforts geared at improving the nutrition status of children across the region.
In her State of the Region Address during RDC’s second quarter meeting here on June 21, Cadiao named the following municipalities as “most nutritionally depressed” in four provinces:
* in Antique – Lawa-an, Caluya, Libertad, San Jose, San Remegio
* in Negros Occidental – Don Salvador Benedicto, Moises Padilla, Cauayan
* in Capiz – Tapaz
* in Iloilo – Batad
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) defines undernutrition as the outcome of insufficient food intake (hunger) and repeated infectious diseases.
Undernutrition includes being underweight for one’s age, too short for one’s age (stunted), dangerously thin (wasted), and deficient in vitamins and minerals (micronutrient malnutrition).
There is a need to focus on three health indicators – crude death rate, maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality ratio – to improve the health of Western Visayans in general, said Cadiao.
When individuals are undernourished, according to Unicef, they can no longer maintain natural bodily capacities, such as growth, resisting infections and recovering from disease, learning and physical work, and pregnancy and lactation in women.
Poor feeding of infants and young children, especially the lack of optimal breastfeeding and responsive complementary feeding, along with such illnesses as diarrhea, pneumonia, and malaria, often exacerbated by worms, are major causes of undernutrition, according to Unicef.
The government’s poverty-alleviation programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program, Kalahi-CIDSS (Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services), Supplemental Feeding, and Social Pension, while not perfect, have significant impacts on the lives of target families, including their health, said Cadiao.
In fact, she said, poverty incidence among families decreased by 25 percent to 15.9 percent and among population, from 31.4 percent to 21.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
“Despite our declining poverty incidence, I am still challenging everyone to walk the extra mile and reach out to alleviate the remaining 15.9 percent poor families,” said Cadiao.
She suggested strengthening government partnerships with the private sector to extend help to unfortunate families.
Cadiao reported that the number of beneficiaries of social welfare projects slightly decreased – from 1.15 million in 2017 to 1.13 million in 2018 – while the value of assistance increased by more than a billion peso, from P8.45 billion to P9.54 billion./PN