Philippines: Ensuring Food Security and Nutrition for Children 0-24 Months Old in the Philippines
A 2008 national survey revealed that one in five Filipino children under the age of 5 was underweight and almost a third were stunted. The recent energy, food and financial crises have added to the challenge set by the government of reducing the prevalence of underweight to 17.25% by 2015. The Joint Programme supported these efforts, concentrating on improving exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in children 0-24 months.
Specifically, the programme aimed to:
- Increase exclusive breastfeeding in the project areas by 20 per cent annually;
- Reduce the prevalence of undernutrition by at least 3 per cent by 2012; and
- Improve the capacities of national and local governments and stakeholders to promote and implement policies and programmes on Infant and Young Child Feeding.
The programme used social marketing strategies to support exclusive breastfeeding, including behaviour change communication. At the local level, it galvanized multi-sectoral duty bearers to create an enabling environment for pregnant and lactating women, where the rights of the child to appropriate infant feeding are supported and protected.
To strengthen the nutrition information system, the quality of data reported through the system from the local through to the national level was reviewed and a district level early warning nutrition and food security system was developed.
Main achievements included:
- The Plan of Action for Nutrition 2011-2016 was approved by the National Nutrition Council Governing Board in early 2012, incorporating the Infant and Young Child Feeding agenda promoted by the programme.
- The programme promoted exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) through various advocacy and training activities, as well as the deployment of peer counselors on EBF. About 3,760 peer counselors were trained in the National Capital Region and in the programme areas. Partner institutions were selected to train the rest of the targeted 32 cities.
- Micronutrient powder (MNP) was distributed in the programme areas among children 6-23 months old and counseling on complementary feeding and recipe trials was offered. The JP commissioned a study to determine the appropriate frequency of MNP distribution to ensure high coverage, adherence and intake. Lessons from this research will be used to improve delivery of MNP nationwide.
- The food security and nutrition early warning system was successful implemented in Ragay, with the municipality acquiring the requisite skills and consistently collecting quarterly data on food security and nutrition. In addition, the data was used effectively to develop specific mitigating interventions such as supplementary feeding and distribution of seeds for community gardens.
- The programme's social mobilization efforts will be scaled up by the National Center for Health Promotion of the Department of Health using government funds.
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