By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill seeking to strengthen the national and local health and nutrition programs for pregnant and lactating women to prevent not only maternal, but also infant mortality.
Via viva voce voting, the Lower Chamber approved House Bill (H.B.) 5777, which also seeks to benefit adolescent girls, women of reproductive age, and children from zero to two years old by guaranteeing their right to adequate food, care and nutrition.
“Mothers who do not receive the proper nutrition while pregnant usually give birth to babies who are small for their gestational age or SGA,” said Diwa partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, principal author of the bill.
Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, chairman of the House committee on health and one of the authors, cited as crucial the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
“It is most critical for growth and development within which hunger and poor nutrition can have irreversible consequences,” she explained.
Tan said the bill seeks to define the roles of the Department of Health (DOH), and the National Nutritional Council (NNC) governing board as the policy-making bodies on health and nutrition.
H.B. 5777 calls for a comprehensive and sustainable strategy to address health and nutrition problems affecting pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children and adolescent girls.
It tasks the DOH and the NNC governing board to formulate such strategy as a program to operationalize the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) which integrates short-, medium- and long-term plan of the government in response to the global call to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.
“Health and nutrition services and intervention for women, infants and young children shall be rendered during the first 270 days (conception and pregnancy – prenatal period, women about to give birth and immediate postpartum period, postpartum and lactating women); 180 days (birth and newborn period, first 6 months of infancy) and 550 days (infants six months up to 2 years of age),” according to the bill.
Delivery of health and nutrition services for adolescent girls, girls of reproductive age and teenage mothers shall include provision of age-appropriate vaccines according to DOH guidelines; provision of oral health services and provision of anti-helmintic drug for deworming.
The bill amends the composition of the NNC governing board, its functions, roles and responsibilities as stipulated in the Executive Order No. 324, series of 1987, known as the “Reorganization Act of the National Nutrition Council.”
Other authors of the bill are Representatives Rogelio Espina (lone district, Biliran), Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez (party list, Alona), Luis Villafuerte (2nd district, Camarines Sur) Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (lone district, Aurora), Sandra Eriguel (2nd district, La Union), Teodoro Montoro (partylist, Aasenso), Sharon Garin (party list, AAMBIS-OWA), Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. (lone district, Ifugao), Maximo Rodriguez Jr. (2nd district, Cagayan de Oro City), Michelle Antonio (party list, Agbiag), Eric Olivarez (1st district, Parañaque City) and Carlos Isagani Zarate (party list, Bayan Muna).
Tags: health and nutrition, House of Representatives, House OKs bill strengthening health nutrition programs for women, infants and young children, local health and nutrition programs, Manila Bulletin, National Nutritional Council, nutrition, nutrition programs
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