House ratifies report on expanded mom, child health care bill

MANILA — The House of Representatives has ratified the bicameral conference committee report on the proposed measure expanding the country’s nutrition and health programs for mothers and children during the child’s first 1,000 days of life.

The lower chamber on Wednesday approved the reconciled version of House Bill 5777 and Senate Bill No. 1537, otherwise known as the proposed “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act”, which aims to strengthen health care for mothers and their newborn children in the first 1,000 days.

The first 1,000 days of a child’s life refers to the period that begins with day one of a woman’s pregnancy until the baby’s second birthday.

This period has been identified as a “golden window” for development, with effects ranging from the potential to prevent stunted growth and the opportunity to improve cognitive development.

The bill aims to provide a more comprehensive, sustainable and multisectoral approach to address health and malnutrition.

The bill mandates the Department of Health and the National Nutritional Council to formulate a comprehensive program to operationalize the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition, which provides the government’s strategy to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, principal author of the bill, said intervention during the first 1,000-day window is crucial and deserves “urgent attention.”

“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life is most critical for growth and development within which hunger and poor nutrition can have irreversible consequences,” Tan said.

Tan said a program is needed to combat malnutrition during this critical period, specifically targeting the vulnerable sectors.

“There is an imperative to provide prenatal and postnatal maternity care service to a pregnant woman in order to protect her health as well as ensure the nutritional diet of her newborn child to eradicate malnutrition,” Tan said.

The Senate has already ratified the bicameral report on Monday, and the measure is now up for signing into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.