Early childhood intervention edict proposed

BAGUIO CITY Ma\y 22 – The City Council approved on first reading a proposed ordinance entitled as the Early Childhood Development and Intervention measure in the city.

The ordinance authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr. stated that the measure aims to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among children 0-23 months old; reduce the prevalence of stunting among children 0-23 months old; increase the percentage of children 0-23 months old meeting development milestones and teach the importance of proper nutrition and early childhood care and development during the first 1,000 days of life.

The ordinance added the maternal and city health care services which may be provided to eligible individuals during the 1,000 days shall include instruction and counselling on maternal and child care and proper nutrition; provision of micro-nutrient supplements during pre-natal and post-natal stages; provision of new born screening, vaccination, supplemental feeding, multi-vitamin supplements and monitoring of exclusive breastfeeding up to 2 years of age; treatment of incidents of malnutrition and other services and interventions as mandated by the government.

The City Health Services Office shall formulate the implementing rules and regulations necessary for the effective and efficient implementation of the local legislative measure within 60 days after its approval.

Further, the amount necessary for the implementation of the ordinance shall be allotted in the annual budget of the local government and shall be included in the budget of the City Health "Services office.

Yangot underscored that the first 1,000 days of life is a special and delicate period where growth, the development of the brain and optimum health is manifested in a child and the human brain, more than any other organ, consumes up to 20 percent of the energy used by the human body and controls most of the activities of the body from cognition, motor control, processing of sensory information, rhythmic control, emotion and language.

He explained the first 1,000 days of life harbors the greatest opportunity to provide optimal nutrition and also the greatest period of brain vulnerability to any nutrients deficit.

According to him, the death of a child is something a parent should never have to experience but in the country, new borns from poor families are twice more likely to die than new borns from wealthier families and in the country's history, malnutrition or under nutrition has been synonymous with poverty.

From inception, the ordinance claimed that the aforesaid conditions within the first 1,000 days of a child, and lead to a rise in morbidity and mortality rates and such conditions show how Filipino mothers undergo a vicious cycle where they go on and give birth to underweight babies.

Moreover, a mother who has been stunted in childhood and is overworked, impoverished and in poor health is the underlying cause of at least a fifth of maternal mortality.

The ordinance noted that the Philippines ranks 9th in the world for having the most stunted children and as a matter of fact, one of two Filipino children is reportedly stunted and that the primary culprit for stunting is poor nutrition and its pernicious effects can be long-term.

Overall, Yangot claimed around 3.6 million Filipino children suffer from stunted growth and 30 percent of the said children are under 5 years old.

By Dexter A. See

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