NEDA Region IV-A Director and RGADC Chairperson Luis Banua presenting the issued paper during the 1st Quarter RGADC meeting.

During the first quarter meeting of the Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC) on February 27 at St. Jude Cooperative Hotel and Event Center, Barangay Isabang, Tayabas City, NEDA Region IV-A Director and RGADC Chairperson Luis Banua presented an issue paper on addressing the problem of malnutrition and stunting in the Philippines. The issue paper focused on the extent of the prevalence of underweight, stunting, and wasting among children under 5 years of age and provided courses of action to address the issue.

Prevalence of stunting in the Philippines increased from 30.3 percent in 2013 to 33.5 in 2015 while underweight increased from 19.9 percent to 21.6 percent. The Philippines is expected to reach its demographic sweet spot by 2050. However, at this rate of malnutrition, it is likely that these children who will constitute our labor force by 2050 suffered from different forms of malnutrition. Thus, they will not reach their full brain and physical development potential, leading to life-long consequences such as poor productivity, impaired growth, less opportunities, and finally a cycle of poverty.

In his presentation, Director Banua emphasized that even though malnutrition in the region is not as serious compared to the other regions, it is important to reduce and eventually eliminate the malnutrition issues. The following courses of action were recommended: a) advocacy activities on the implementation of the First 100 Days; b) pushing for the zero unmet needs for family planning; c) reducing cases of teenage pregnancy; d) convergence efforts between government and private sectors; and e) creating more livelihood opportunities. Moreover, these activities can be charged to the GAD fund of the different agencies, state universities and colleges, and local government units.

The RGADC issued a resolution endorsing to the Regional Development Council (RDC) the request for all RDC members to implement different programs, projects, and activities that are aligned and supportive to the recommendations from the issue paper on malnutrition. The request is for endorsement of the RDC during its first quarter meeting on March 14.

Aprille M. Suyat, NEDA Region IV-A | March 5, 2019