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Press Release - EDCOM 2 to work closely with DSWD to address malnutrition and stunting of children

The Second Congressional Committee on Education (EDCOM 2) today met with Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian to discuss government efforts aimed at combating malnutrition and stunting among children.

Joined by PIDS President Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Senior Research Fellow Dr Valerie Gilbert Ulep and nutrition expert Dr Maria Asuncion Silvestre, EDCOM 2 and DSWD discussed issues and challenges concerning implementation of feeding programs and other government interventions to address malnutrition, and how these translate to improved nutrition of children especially those under five years of age.

"We face glaring problems in education as reflected in our Year One report, and yet, we are underinvested in the most important years. We want to explore how DSWD and EDCOM 2 can work together and streamline our efforts to improve early childhood care and development which is fundamental in any effort to combat learning poverty in our country", says EDCOM 2 Executive Director Karol Mark Yee.

Inextricable link of malnutrition and education

"Several studies already showed that the failure to provide adequate nutrition during the early stages of life would impact a child's learning and earning capacity in adulthood. We must introduce nutrition interventions at the earliest possible opportunity to build a child's strong foundation, and we should be able to do this with support from our local government units," said Senator Win Gatchalian, EDCOM 2 Co-Chairperson and author of the Basic Education and Early Childhood Education Alignment Act (Senate Bill No. 2575).

In its Year One Report, EDCOM 2 noted that the Philippines has one of the highest prevalence of stunting under-five in the world at 26.7%, greater than the global average of 22.3%. Current prevalence rates for under-five wasting and underweight is at 16.8% and 5.5% respectively, and 1 in 5 children are born with low birth weight.

Studies show that malnutrition can hinder the complete physical and development potential of children. Its effect on academic performance has long been established, and may also have lasting effects on cognitive development of learners.

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