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Food security, healthcare crucial to growth — NEDA

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - April 29, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Ensuring available and affordable food and proper healthcare for all Filipinos are crucial in unlocking the country’s growth potential, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

At the recent 54th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the government remains committed in protecting and advancing the gains of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action.

“Population planning and food security are key to unlocking the country’s growth potential and the health and welfare of all Filipinos. Our goal is to give every Filipino access to quality healthcare, nutrition services and family planning,” said Chua, who heads the Philippine delegation.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges we are facing in securing food, nutrition and good health for all Filipinos. Overcoming this unprecedented crisis requires stronger collaboration,” he said.

The NEDA chief emphasized that the government has undertaken several reforms to improve agricultural productivity and food security.

These include the enactment of the Rice Tariffication Law in 2019 aimed at bringing down prices of rice at the retail level.

The law targets to benefit consumers, especially the poor, and eventually boost the country’s food security alongside improving farmers’ competitiveness.

While malnutrition prevalence has been on a downward trend over the past few years, Chua said the figures remain high.

Latest data showed that 5.8 percent or around 600,000 children under five years old are wasted, 19 percent or 2.1 million are underweight and 28.8 percent or 3.2 million children are stunted.

To address this, the government has implemented the First 1,000 Days Act, which institutionalized a national feeding program in public day care, kindergarten and elementary schools.

“We aim to further reduce the prevalence of stunting among children under five years old as we factor in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to food security and nutrition,” Chua said.

He said the government is taking a whole-of-nation approach to eradicate hunger and achieve food security through the creation of the Interagency Task Force on Zero Hunger.

Reforms to promote sustainable consumption and production are also embodied in the Philippine Action Plan for Sustainable Consumption and Production.

The CPD is composed of 47 member states elected by the UN Economic and Social Council for a period of four years on the basis of geographic distribution.

The Philippines resumed membership of the Commission, starting with the 54th session which is centered on population, food security, nutrition and sustainable development.

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