Poe urges increase in funding for first 1,000 days

ABS-CBN News

Senator Grace Poe called on her colleagues to support moves to increase the budget of the First 1,000 Days in its maiden year of implementation next year as an institutionalized health care initiative for mothers and children.

Now that the measure has been signed into law–listed as Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act–Poe said adequate funding support is needed in addressing malnutrition among mothers and their newborn children in the first 1,000 days.

“Just like an infant, the future of this new law–whether or not it fulfills its mandate–lies in the first 1,000 days of its implementation. Without sufficient funding, the law cannot fulfill the program’s objectives of scaling down undernutrition and improving the health of mothers and infants,” said Poe, co-author and co-sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

Poe likewise thanked the President for his approval and for “recognizing the importance of this law.”

The legislation provides nutritional supplement to women and infants which includes vaccination, deworming, vitamin A drops, iron and food supplement, among others to improve nutrition and prevent and manage malnutrition.

In its first year of implementation next year, however, it was estimated that at least P6 billion is needed to fulfill the mandates of the program.

The National Nutrition Council’s (NNC) fund for raising awareness of the programs suffered fund reduction in the 2019 budget which is pegged at P118 million from P300 million this year.

Poe made the call as she lamented the huge budget cuts in the DOH budget, which she said might result in job losses and could have serious effect in delivering vital health services. The DOH budget will be slashed by P35 billion to P74.1 billion in 2019 from P109.8 billion in this year’s budget.

“Dapat nating suportahan ang ganitong programa dahil mas malaki ang gagastusin ng pamahalaan kapag dumami pa ang nagugutom at kulang sa nutrisyon,” Poe added.

Poe is expected to introduce amendments in the budget of the DOH, specifically on the First 1,000 Days program when the Senate tackles the agency’s spending plan.

The DOH, National Nutrition Council, Department of Agriculture, in coordination with other state agencies and local government units, are mandated to develop a comprehensive strategy for the first 1,000 days of life. -IGC