DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 January) — Davao del Sur is among the 10 provinces in the country chosen as pilot areas for the three-year Early Childhood Care Development program in a bid “to ensure the full development of the child” through integrated social services, an official said Monday.
The province, in particular Hagonoy and Magsaysay towns and Digos City, has been enrolled in the program after scoring high in poverty incidence and prevalence rate of children with malnutrition, National Nutrition Council (NNC) 11 program coordinator Dr. Ma. Teresa Ungson said.
A total of 9,526 pregnant mothers, zero to five month-old infants, and six to 23-month old children are expected to benefit from the program in 69 barangays in Digos and the two towns.
Aside from Davao del Sur, the program covers the provinces of Pangasinan, Quezon, Camarines Sus, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Cebu, Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Sulu.
Speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw, Ungson said government services hardly reach the chosen areas in Davao del Sur.
“They are not necessarily the worst in poverty incidence and malnutrition rate but they are at the borderline. We want to remove them from the list,” she said.
She emphasized the need to educate the parents, especially the mothers, on proper child-rearing practices to prevent malnutrition.
She said the body that determines the recipients is composed of the Department of Health, National Nutrition Council, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Davao del Sur’s malnutrition prevalence rate was at 11.67 percent, Davao Oriental 6.56 percent, Davao del Norte 5.77 percent, Compostela Valley 5.14 percent, and Davao City 4.8 percent, based on the Millennium Development Goals results released in 2013.
Data from NNC 11said the prevalence rate of underweight and severely underweight children aged zero to five years and nine months decreased to 5.43 percent from January to March 2015 compared to 6.14 percent for the same period in 2014.
To be implemented from 2016 to 2018, the ECCD system refers to the “full range of health, nutrition, early education, and social services development programs that provide for the basic holistic needs of young children from aged zero to four years.”
But Ungson added that the first 1,000 days of the children, starting from pregnancy, is critical to their development that all support must be given to the child at this stage.
“The mothers should complete the prenatal checkup, immunization and newborn screening for the children,” she said. “Above that, we also want to teach them how to handle pregnancy and take care of their bodies and the babies.”
She said it is important to capture the children’s development this early because brain develops faster from zero to two years old.
Citing the United Nations Children’s Fund’s Global Nutrition Database in 2012, she said the Philippines ranked 9th among 14 countries where 80 percent of the world’s stunted children live. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)