June 17, 2024

The National Nutrition Council-Cordillera is asking the seven Cordillera lawmakers to support a pending bill in Congress that seeks to expand and strengthen the nutrition council to allow it to respond more effectively and efficiently to the persistent malnutrition in our country.
In NNC-CAR’s letter to the lawmakers, Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator Bella Basalong wrote despite NNC’s vital role in leading the country’s fight against malnutrition, it has remained a small agency since its creation in 1974, with less than 100 staff combined central and regional offices.
Pending at the Congress is House Bill 6501 or the “Act Strengthening the National Nutrition Council Repealing for this Purpose Presidential Decree 491, Expanding its Powers and Functions, and for other Purposes” or the “Nutrition Act of 2023” filed by Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Dec. 6, 2022.
The bill highlights the change in the institution classification of the agency from a council to a commission with changes in its organizational composition, additional functions, and responsibilities, and increased human resource.
“This would result in a strengthened NNC. A strengthened NNC can respond more effectively and efficiently to the persistent malnutrition in our country. It would also result in an improved and strengthened overall system of coordination and implementation of nutrition governance at all levels. We humbly request your honorable representation to sponsor/co-sponsor HB 6501 to realize this change,” Basalong said.
As the highest policymaking and coordinating body on nutrition in the country, the NNC is tasked to formulate national food and nutrition policies and strategies, coordinate planning, monitor and evaluate the national nutrition program, and serve as the policy, coordinating and advisory body on concerns related to food, nutrition, and health.
It draws its mandate from PD 491, s. 1974 or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines.
The proposed Nutrition Act of 2023 seeks to appoint a chairperson and two commissioners with the rank of undersecretary to be appointed by the President.
The commission, if approved, is tasked among its duties, functions, and responsibilities to formulate an integrated and multi-sectoral national policies, programs, activities, and projects on nutrition and food to ensure good nutrition and food security and eliminate malnutrition.
In his explanatory note, Rodriguez said data show 4,844 Filipinos died of malnutrition in January to October 2021 compared to 3,514 in the same period in 2020. The Philippines also ranked fifth among countries in East Asia and the Pacific region with the highest prevalence of stunting in 2019 and among 10 countries globally with the highest number of stunted children.
The country also showed very minimal progress in addressing its undernutrition, with overnutrition becoming a significant concern.
“The government must therefore take aggressive steps to immediately solve these perennial problems. The bill will provide a permanent nutrition framework aligned to the overall national policy of the government, especially the Philippine Development Plan,” Rodriguez stated in the bill. – Hanna C. Lacsamana