THE World Bank has approved a $178.1 million loan to support the Philippines’ efforts to fight malnutrition.
The Philippines Multi-Sector Nutrition Project will support the delivery of nutrition and health care services at the primary and community care levels to help reduce stunting, the Washington-based multilateral said in a statement Thursday.
Nutrition and healthcare services will be provided in 235 municipalities known to have high poverty and malnutrition.
Households with pregnant women and children under two should benefit from high-impact interventions such as infant and youth feeding, regular growth monitoring, multiple micronutrient supplements for babies, iron and folic acid supplements for pregnant women, vitamin A supplements for children, food supplements for pregnant women at nutritional risk and treatment of moderate and severe acute malnutrition.
The project will also support behavior change campaigns for the adoption of activities such as handwashing with soap at critical times, improved sanitation and access to clean water, childcare and early childhood development, nutrition-focused childcare development activities, and promoting access to the Pantawid Pamilya social protection program.
“The persistence of high levels of child undernutrition in the Philippines, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, could lead to a significant increase in inequality of opportunity in the country,” World Bank Country Director Ndiamé Diop said. in the press release.
“Where healthy children may succeed in school and hope for a prosperous future, stunted children tend to be sickly, learn less, more likely to drop out of school and their productivity economic growth in adulthood can be reduced by more than 10% over their lifetime,” he added.
“Therefore, improving the nutritional status of children is critical to the country’s goals of boosting human capital while strengthening the country’s economic recovery and long-term growth prospects.”
The project will also provide performance-based grants to local government units. Grants will be tied to the provision of pre-defined nutrition, maternal and child services and to improving nutrition planning and budgeting at the local level.
“Undernutrition and exposure to risk and adversity in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can disrupt cognitive, emotional and physical development and prevent children from reaching their full potential, thus affecting the formation of the country’s human capital,” the World Bank official said. said nutrition specialist Nkosinathi Mbuya.
“Therefore, interventions to improve nutritional outcomes need to focus on this age group and on women of reproductive age,” Mbuya added.