The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Republic of Korea through Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) on Wednesday, December 7, announced the closure of the successful partnership programme “Integrated Nutrition and Health Actions for the First 1,000 Days” (‘F1KD’ programme). The four-year program aimed to address malnutrition in the three provinces of Samar, Northern Samar, and Zamboanga del Norte (ZdN)—areas with the highest indicators of child malnutrition and those prone to natural disasters.
Across the three project provinces, there was a remarkable improvement in child health and nutrition, and maternal health. The provinces recorded a decrease in proportion of children born of low birth weight reducing from 12.1 to 8.8 percent. The programme also noted significant increases in the coverage of vitamin A supplementation among children under 5 years, the proportion of children 12 to 59 months who received deworming, and an increase in fully immunized children. In the area of maternal health, some of the notable improvements included post-natal care of mothers and newborns within 48 hours and an increase in the percentage of mothers who completed four prenatal check-ups among other improvements.
“During the implementation of the ‘F1KD’ programme, we have accomplished remarkable milestones to improve the policy and governance environment for maternal, infant and child nutrition in the first 1,000 days. Three new national policies and legislation were completed, namely: 1) RA 11210 the Expanded Maternity Leave Law completed in 2019, 2) RA 11148 (the first 1,000 days) Implementing Rules and Regulations completed in 2019, and 3) RA 11148 Manual of Procedures completed in 2021,” shared Kim Eunsub, Country Director of KOICA Philippines.
In addition, all 19 target municipalities have increased their budget allocation on integrated nutrition and first 1,000 days interventions as noted in their Local Nutrition Action Plans. These achievements in legal frameworks which were brought under the leadership of local chief executives highlight the importance of good governance by the local government as the cornerstone for effective and accountable implementation and scale-up of interventions.
“Nutrition is the cornerstone and bedrock of developing children. Malnutrition not only has a negative impact on physical development but also on cognitive development. Where malnutrition is chronic, human capital is not reaching its potential. Nutrition is very much at the root of realizing all our children’s rights,” said Behzad Noubary, UNICEF Deputy Representative.
As the project has come to a close, UNICEF and KOICA urge the national government to utilize the lessons learned from the ‘F1KD’ programme to scale-up countrywide, and for the local government units to bolster implementation to all municipalities in the province.33