No fewer than 3.6 million children in Philippines suffer stunted growth due to malnutrition, a report released by Save the Children, Non-governmental Organisation said on Thursday.
“Among its neighbouring countries in Southeast Asian region, only the Philippines recorded significant level of wasted children.
“Moderate or severe wasting in the Philippines was estimated at eight per cent in 2013. This translates to about 769, 000,” the report said.
According to the report, one in three Filipino children suffers from stunted growth, an indication of chronic malnutrition.
It said progress in reducing child deaths, slow and unequal progress in curbing child malnutrition and stunting rates was likely to undermine efforts to reduce poverty and stall economic growth.
Dr Amado Parawan, Save the Children’s Health and Nutrition adviser, said the assumption had always been that Filipinos were just genetically short.
“However, what we actually see now are generations of stunted and malnourished children. Because ‘shortness’ is considered a racial trait, it is not seen as a serious concern.
“Stunting is more than just being short, it impacts children’s future because it hinders physical and mental growth,” Parawan said.
The NGO has called on the Philippine government, civil society, donors and the public to tackle the country’s malnutrition crisis.