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Press Release - 1 in 3 Filipino children stunted due to severe underinvestment, inadequate access to high quality childcare services - PIDS-EDCOM 2 study

A study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that inadequate and untimely access to high-quality early childcare and prenatal interventions contribute to the alarming levels of stunting among Filipino children.

The study also found that the severe underinvestment for early childhood care and development, weak institutions, and fragmented governance also hinders implementation of early childhood care development interventions.

"Behind the Slow Start: An Assessment of Early Childhood Care and Development in the Philippines" was published in support of the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EDCOM 2). The authors are Valerie Gilbert T. Ulep, Lyle Daryll D. Casas, Aaron Carols G. Manuel, John Paulo D. Mendoza, Joy Bagas, and Kim Leonard G. Dela Luna.

"EDCOM 2 welcomes the findings of the study conducted by PIDS. Our recommendations on the programmatic and legislative reforms to our education systems are based on empirical evidence from these kinds of studies," says EDCOM 2 Executive Director Karol Mark Yee.

Low access to early education, health, and nutrition services

According to the study, participation in early education among Filipino children aged 3-4 is low, despite the implementation of legislations such as the Kindergarten Education Act, the Enhanced Basic Education Act, and the Early Years Act. "There was a drastic decline in the percentage of children aged 3-4 years old attending school during the pandemic. While it recovered to 20% in 2022, it still fell below pre-pandemic levels," according to the authors.

The study also explained how child health outcomes are impacted by maternal and child undernutrition and exposure to infections, which directly contributes to chronic malnutrition and increased risk of mortality. Approximately 14% of Filipino women of reproductive age are undernourished and evidence shows that malnourished mothers are more likely to give birth to infants with low birth weights, resulting in both short term and long term consequences.

Furthermore, access to most basic health services including prenatal care, child immunization, postnatal care and other maternal and child services remains