MALNUTRITION, a condition caused by an imbalance of essential nutrients in the body, is usually a result of prolonged hunger, especially in children. This leads to these children stunting or being too small for their age. 

“Batang Matatag,” a movement led by Save the Children Philippines and Erceflora Kiddie, aims to reduce the number of Filipino children suffering from malnutrition by providing health, nutrition, sanitation, and education access to underserved areas. 

In certain communities in the Philippines, unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene exacerbate the problem, also making children susceptible to various illnesses. 

“The lack of proper education, nutrition, and sanitation could lead to repeated cases of illnesses like diarrhea. Making people aware and getting them involved allows us to prevent the worst-case scenario from happening,” said Carol Ann Stewart, ambassador of the Batang Matatag campaign, at the Oct. 13 launch.

In 2021, 2.9 million Filipino children aged 0 to 10 years were estimated to have experienced hunger. While there are already efforts from different public and private institutions to solve the problem, partnerships will make it easier, said Ms. Stewart. 

The campaign is currently focusing efforts on providing access to clean and nutritious food to communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) via the Life Changer for Children initiative of Save the Children. 

“We hope this would be a stepping stone for Filipinos everywhere to continue spreading awareness and maintaining the good practices in proper food preparation and sanitation,” she added.

The goal in BARMM is to realign people’s focus on preventative measures and build kids’ resilience through implementing and maintaining sustainable facilities.

Dr. Joselyn Alonzo-Eusebio, a developmental and behavioral pediatrics specialist, emphasized that stunting and illnesses like diarrhea also affect children’s development. 

While healthy children can excel in school, stunted children end up sickly, are less likely to learn, and are more likely to drop out of school, lowering their future economic prospects. 

“What communities need is proper awareness and education on easy and accessible prevention. We hope to address lack of information on the disease and encourage people to take proactive measures at home and in the community,” Dr. Eusebio said. 

For every purchase of Erceflora Kiddie, a portion goes to help improve the lives of children in BARMM through the Save the Children’s initiative. — Brontë H. Lacsamana