DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The National Nutrition Council along with the Department of Health and the Local Government Units (LGUs) is set to launch the “First 1,000 days approach” in the region to provide proper health care to both mother and child.

Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator, Dr. Maria Teresa Ungson said in an interview on Thursday, June 8, that the method is to ensure right nutrition from conception period until the child reaches two years old.

“This is a strategy wherein by the time a woman gets pregnant, she should be on health care centers for check-ups, prenatal, she should take care of her health, her body and eat properly so that the child that is forming inside every woman will be healthy,” Ungson said.

The approach recognizes the period when the mother and child are “at most risk of malnutrition and infections” and that the child’s growth also begins in the mother’s womb, she added.

According to a 2017 position paper by Philippine Pediatric Society, Inc. (PPS) Committee on Nutrition, the first 1,000 days is a ‘critical window of opportunities and outcomes’. As stated, ‘the outcome of brain development by the age of two years determines to a large extent a person’s mental capacity for the rest of his/her life, including success in schooling and income earning.’

Ungson reported that based on the DepEd’s latest data for the school year 2016-2017, using the body mass index, the prevalence rate for ‘severely wasted’ (bodies are extremely thin and skeletal) school children is 2.5 percent while 7.98 are categorized as ‘wasted’.

Ungson said that the method is being implemented this year in ten pilot provinces all over the country.

In Davao region, the method is to be implemented in the towns of Hagonoy, Magsaysay and Digos City in Davao del Sur.

She added that it has also been extended to the province of Davao Occidental but no final list of places yet.

“It is supposed to start this month maybe on July onwards, depending upon the readiness of the local government unit since they are one of those who will lead and facilitate,” Ungson said.

The implementation of the pilot scheme will be observed and evaluated for three years before it will be set as a national program.

Ungson said that the approach shall cater, if possible, all the pregnant women in the said areas. They shall report to health care centers and be given free services such as check-ups, prenatal, and immunizations for both mother and child.

Nutritionists and health workers will guide and monitor them and give them proper supplements.

Ungson also urged the mothers to breastfeed their child for at least six months up to two years and beyond.

“Eat properly, so that you will be healthy and afterward give your colostrum, breastfeed exclusively up to six months and beyond. Say no to Infant formula,” Ungson said.

Ungson said that they have already released a budget of 5 million to the said three places in Davao del Sur. (davaotoday.com)

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