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    Posted July 22, 2014 by

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    ‘Child malnutrition in Phl a stark reality’

    PHILIPPINE Senator Grace Poe on Tuesday stressed the need to address child malnutrition, which persists despite the Philippines' much-touted economic growth.
    "Child malnutrition is a stark reality in the Philippines. Many children in the country - most notably those in the countryside and urban poor areas - still do not have enough food to eat," Poe said during the 8th Annual Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) Opening Program organized by the Jollibee Group Foundation in partnership with the Provincial Government of Tarlac.
    Poe has been pushing for a standard free lunch program for public school children as her main advocacy. She has filed Senate Bill No.79 or the Sustansya sa Batang Pilipino (Vitamins for Filipino Children) Act which is expected to benefit an estimated six million malnourished children in the country.
    "Healthy kids are the hope of the Motherland. If they’re healthy, a child is alert and intelligent," the senator said, citing studies which prove that the effects of malnutrition are often irreversible and that children who grew up underweight and stunted are most likely to end up as adults with inferior intellectual and physical capabilities.
    The Food and Agriculture Organization's 2013 State of Agriculture Reports said that the global cost of malnutrition - in terms of lost productivity and direct health care costs - could account for as much as 5% of the global GDP, which is equivalent to $3.5 trillion a year.
    "This means that the Philippines, which per latest census has a population of 97 million (15 million are malnourished per current estimates), is losing up to 2 trillion pesos a year - in terms of lost productivity and health care costs - due to malnutrition," Poe explained.
    "This is why governments all over the world invest huge sums of money not only in the education of their children but in their proper nutrition as well," she stressed.
    The latest National Nutrition Survey says around 3.3 million children below five years old are underweight and another 3.5 million are below their normal height.
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