House approves “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act

The House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations has approved the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act”, a bill to strengthen the national and local health and nutrition programs for pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, infants and young children in the first 1000 days. Sponsored by Dr. Sandra Eriguel, La Union Second District Representative and House Committee on Health Vice Chairperson, the bill aims to provide a conducive policy environment for nutrition improvement and a more comprehensive, sustainable and multi-sectoral approach to address health and malnutrition.

The bill seeks to refocus intervention for addressing malnutrition among the most nutritionally at risk, prioritizing women of reproductive age, especially adolescent girls, teen-age age mothers, pregnant and lactating women and children from birth up to 24 months, to address the health and nutrition problems of these vulnerable groups. The bill tasked the Department of Health and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to formulate a strategy that is comprehensive and sustainable.

Nutrition and health services and interventions to be offered:

For the first 270 days of conception and pregnancy: prenatal services at the rural health units and barangay health stations, provision of antihelminthic drugs deworming and assessment of risk for parasites; for pregnant women and immediate postpartum period, care at the time of admission at the facility, and monitoring of progress of labor and conditions of both the mother and the fetus, among others; and for postpartum and lactating women, the services include follow-up preventive care visits to health facilities where they gave birth, and home visits for women in difficult to reach communities particularly geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDA).

For the next 180 days (0-6 months of the child): provision of continuous support for mother and their infants to initiate and complete exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, including referral to trained health workers on lactation management and treatment of breast conditions; counselling household members on handwashing, environmental sanitation and hygiene; appropriate and timely immunization services integrated with assessment of breastfeeding practice, growth monitoring promotion; infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counselling; and provision of routine newborn care services such as eye prophylaxis and vitamin K, birth doses of Hepatitis B and BCG vaccines after completion of the first breastfeeding.

For the last 550 days (6 months up to 2 years of the child): health and nutrition services at the community level shall be provided, such as integrated management of childhood illnesses, including the management of moderate and severe acute malnutrition; deworming for children one to two years old; oral health services, including application of fluoride varnish to prevent dental carries; and livelihood assistance for parents of families belonging to the poorest of the poor.

The NNC has launched in 2016 the Early Childhood Care and Development First 1000 Days Program and called on stakeholders to support the program to hasten the reduction of malnutrition in the country. (Source: Daniel G. Salunga)