Marcos Moves To Cut Filipino “Child Zombie” Cases

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Senator Imee R. Marcos expressed alarm Saturday at the incidence of Filipino “child zombies” or those with stunted brain growth and who are underweight, ahead of filing a Senate resolution meant to review government child-feeding programs.

Citing child nutrition research statistics, Marcos said about 30% of a Filipino child’s brain will not grow further if malnutrition continues from the time a mother is pregnant until the child reaches the age of five.

“The Philippines remains one of nine countries with the highest number of children with stunted growth,” Marcos said. “The public has not heard about the status, much less the success, of government programs aimed at reducing malnutrition.”

To boost her Senate resolution, Marcos called for the distribution of “Nutribiskwit” – a nutrient-fortified, mould-free, and better stored version of the iconic Nutribun given to grade-school children in the 70’s.

Nutrition statistics show that more than one-third of Filipino children suffer stunted growth, with 95 Filipino children dying each day from malnutrition, and 27 out of 1,000 unable to get past their fifth birthday.

Senior research specialist Salvador Serrano of the Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute said that many Filipino children face a bleak future due to stunting.

Among the government programs the Marcos resolution seeks to review is the Department of Health’s so-called action plan started in 2017 for “nutrition intervention”, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s 120-day program to gauge the nutritional status of child beneficiaries, and the Early Childhood Care and Development Council that is supposed to provide protection for children aged 0-4 years.