The World Bank on Thursday approved a $178.1-million loan to support the Philippines’ efforts in addressing malnutrition.
The Washington-based bank said it will support the delivery of nutrition and health care services at the primary care and community levels to help reduce stunting that is characterized by prolonged nutritional deficiency among infants and young children, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The persistence of high levels of childhood undernutrition in the Philippines, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, could lead to a significant increase in inequality of opportunities in the country,” said Ndiame Diop, the World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.
He said improving the nutritional status of children is key to the Southeast Asian country’s goals of boosting human capital while strengthening the economic recovery and prospects for long-term growth.
Globally, food prices, already on the rise since the second half of 2020, have reached a record high this year, leading to food security problems worldwide.
Unless immediate action is taken, millions of children “will face the increased risk of undernutrition”, the bank warned.
According to the Unicef, 95 children in the Philippines die from malnutrition on a daily basis.
Twenty-seven out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday, while a third are stunted, or short for their age.
Stunting after 2 years of age can be permanent, irreversible and even fatal.