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DOH delivers Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food for severely malnourished children to priority provinces

©UNICEF Philippines
Felicita Borata, Nutritionist/Dietitian from the Department of Health Region 8 and UNICEF’s Alvin Manalansan inspect Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) procured by DOH through UNICEF in a DOH warehouse in Palo, Leyte.

MANILA, 5 April 2017 — The Department of Health (DOH) and UN children’s agency UNICEF come together to help save the lives of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Nutrition supplies such as ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) are finally being delivered to priority provinces to treat up to 50,000 children who are severely malnourished. These supplies were procured through UNICEF’s global supply and logistics network, ensuring high quality and good value through fair and open procurement.

"It is very important that these RUTF and other nutrition-related commodities reach infants and young children who have severe acute malnutrition. We cannot afford to lose the lives of these children. We need everybody's cooperation and support especially from our local chief executives to achieve our Philippine Health Agenda and Zero SAM. Let us make it happen for our children,” Department of Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial of DOH says.

Malnutrition remains a significant public health concern in the Philippines with a staggering 3.4 million children who are stunted (short for their age) and more than 300,000 children under 5 years who are severely wasted (thin for their height) concentrated in Regions IVB, ARMM, Eastern Visayas and Bicol Regions. Children who have severe wasting—also known as severe acute malnutrition or SAM—are nine to 12 times at risk of dying.

©UNICEF Philippines
Health workers and professionals from Region 8 attend a training on the Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Tacloban City, Leyte. With technical support from UNICEF, DOH is scaling up SAM management services in 17 initial provinces in 2016. In the Philippines, there are 300,000 children who are severely malnourished.

Wasting continues to be a serious child health problem with the Philippines being highly disaster-prone. In the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, the Philippines was identified as one of the top 40 countries in the world with the highest prevalence of wasting at 7.9 per cent. In the UNICEF Global Nutrition Database, the Philippines ranks 10th in the world with the highest number of children under five who are moderately or severely wasted. The risk of wasting increases in the aftermath of emergencies.

“Good nutrition is the foundation of a child’s survival, health and development. Identifying severely malnourished children early, feeding them therapeutic food and giving them routine medications before any complications develop are key to saving their lives,” UNICEF Philippines Deputy Representative Julia Rees says.

With technical support from UNICEF, DOH began scaling up SAM management services in 17 initial provinces in 2016. This includes the development of standard training modules on the management of Severe Acute Malnutrition and a series of capacity building sessions for early detection. DOH, for the first time, was also able to procure ready-to-use therapeutic food, therapeutic milk and other essential commodities. The supplies are enough for an estimated 50,000 children with SAM with additional stocks prepositioned for emergency situations.

This is a significant step forward to achieve one of the keystones of DOH’s Philippine Health Agenda and UNICEF’s strategy to improve Child Survival and Early Childhood Care and Development. They both emphasize the importance of the First 1,000 days of life, which hopes to end malnutrition and give every child the best start in life.



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