Philippines asks World Bank $178.1-million ‘silent pandemic’ loan

·2 min read
A group of children poses in front of the camera in the Philippines. (Photo: Getty Images)
A group of children poses in front of the camera in the Philippines. (Photo: Getty Images)

Washington-based multilateral lender World Bank will take into consideration in its June 22 board presentation the Philippines’ request for a $178.1 million loan for a multisectoral nutrition project aimed to address stunted growth among Filipino children.

It will be jointly implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Department of Health.

The project’s objective, according to the World Bank’s website, is “to increase the utilization of a package of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions and improve key behaviors and practices known to reduce stunting in targeted local government units.”

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, stunting is “impaired growth and development experienced due to poor nutrition.” Data from World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 estimates 162 million children worldwide under the age of five are affected by this growth impediment.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, one in three children is stunted, and the country is fifth in the East Asia and Pacific Region with the highest cases of stunting, and one of 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children.

In a report by the World Bank entitled “Undernutrition in the Philippines: Scale, Scope, and Opportunities for Nutrition Policy and Programming” in 2021, 30 percent of Filipino children under five years old are stunted, higher than other countries with similar economies ranging at around 20 percent.

“Improving the nutrition of all children is key to the country’s goals of investing in people and boosting human capital for a more inclusive pattern of economic growth,” Ndiame Diop, World Bank’s Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand said in the report.

“To achieve that, we need greater coordination among the local and national government units, as well as participation of the private sector and civil society to address this silent pandemic afflicting many poor and vulnerable families.”

If the current trends continue, the WHO fears that an additional of 127 million more children under five will be stunted in 2025, which is already exacerbated even more by the pandemic.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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