By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos on Friday urged local government units (LGUs) to prioritize maternal and child health, and nutrition programs in their localities in support of the implementation of Republic Act No. 11148, or the “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act.”
In a statement, Abalos said LGUs play a key role in the whole-of-government approach to combat malnutrition among adolescent females, pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children, and reduce maternal mortality and stunting in children.
“The right to health is a fundamental principle guaranteed by the State, and malnutrition continues to threaten this right disrupting the very future of our own children. Kaya naman napaka-importante na magsagawa ng mga hakbang ang mga LGUs para pangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mag-ina – mula sa sinapupunan hanggang sa unang 1,000 araw ng paglaki ng bata (That is why it is very important for LGUs to take steps to protect the health of mothers and daughters – from the womb to the first 1,000 days of a child’s growth),” he said.
“I feel so strongly about this as I have advocated the same since my time as a local chief executive in Mandaluyong City. The movement against malnutrition and the welfare of pregnant and lactating women can start for all LGUs, too. Kumilos tayo laban sa malnutrisyon ng mga buntis, sanggol at mga bata (Let’s take action against malnutrition in pregnant women, infants and children),” he said.
To fully support RA 11148, Abalos issued DILG Memorandum Circular 2023-149 last Oct. 12, directing LGUs to integrate programs on nutrition for adolescent females, pregnant and lactating women, infants and young children in their investment plans for health, prioritizing those who are nutritionally at risk.
Some primary services required by the program include pregnancy tracking and regular counseling for pregnant women, breastfeeding plans and resources for postpartum and lactating women, newborn screening and vaccination for newborn babies and nutrition counseling for children up to two years of age.
Apart from LGUs, Abalos said the whole-of-government approach and delivery of services and interventions must include the participation of national government agencies, civil society organizations and other stakeholders.
He said the law shall be implemented through rural health units and barangay health centers, in coordination with the Sangguniang Barangay, barangay nutrition scholars and barangay health workers, to include health and nutrition intervention services at different life stages.
During his term as Mandaluyong City mayor, the Nutrition Honor Award, which was the highest accolade conferred by the National Nutrition Council to an LGU, was conferred to the city for three consecutive years.
Abalos was also cited for his Millenium Baby Project which provided care for women and their babies, and the creation of the Breastfeeding Patrol, a group of breastfeeding mothers who can be called upon during emergencies to breast-feed hungry babies. (PNA)