On 29 November 2018, the First 1,000 Days bill was signed into law in the Philippines. Now Republic Act 11148, the law will ensure care for pregnant women and their child, from the start of the pregnancy to the child’s first two years of life.
What are the salient points of the law?
The law aims to provide evidence-based nutrition interventions to pregnant and lactating women and children two years old and below to reduce infant and maternal deaths, as well to address malnutrition among children, and to allocate resources for those interventions. The law also seeks to ensure the sustained and meaningful participation of national government agencies particularly the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council, as well as of local government units, civil society organizations, and the private sector.
Why is there a need for the law?
There are 3.6 million stunted children in the Philippines, which is ranked 9th in the list of 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children, alongside famine and war stricken countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At least 95 children below 5 years of age die every day due to preventable diseases caused by undernutrition, and there are over 800,000 malnourished children in the country.
This law will help scale up the nutrition support for mothers and children in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which is also known as the crucial window of opportunity to ensure that mothers and children in Philippines achieve their optimum development. The First 1,000 Days law will implement nutrition programs and support before, during, and after a mother gives birth; training for local health workers; and support for mothers to ensure her own and her child's health and nutrition.
When did Save the Children begin campaigning for the passage of the law?
Save the Children began pushing for the law in 2016, but has actually started calling for the prioritization of nutrition as a national priority as early as 2015. Through its Lahat Dapat (Every One) campaign, Save the Children worked through private and public advocacy to bring child malnutrition up-front and center in conversations with legislators in the Philippines. To strengthen the case for legislation, Save the Children released a series of reports on malnutrition: Sizing Up in 2015, Cost of Hunger: Philippines in 2016, and Lives Cut Short in 2017.
What is Save the Children’s contribution to the law?
Save the Children Philippines actively participated in the legislative advocacy and provided technical support in the drafting of the First 1,000 Days bill to both Senate and House of Representatives based on its existing programs on health and nutrition for babies and lactating mothers.