Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — According to UNICEF there are at least 3.4 million Filipino children who are stunted mostly because of undernutrition.
“One-third of all Filipino children are stunted, which means they are short, [but] they’re not genetically short, they’re short because they are not fed properly,” said UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander.
As a result, the children don’t grow to their full potential cognitively and prevent them from performing as well as they could in adulthood.
That’s why the first 1,000 days of a child’s life is important. If a child doesn’t get enough nourishment during that time, the effects it will have in the future will be irreversible.
“Let’s say a child is malnourished during the 1,000 first days, it means they’ll be shorter, they won’t develop mentally, intellectually, and they can never regain that,” said Sylwander. “Catching up is not possible.”
According to Sylwander, stunted children cost 3 percent of the country’s GDP, which is the same amount Typhoon Yolanda cost the country.
“No one is talking about the 30 percent of children who are stunted, which is an equal silent catastrophe going on every day in the Philippines,” said the country rep.
To deal with the problems plaguing the Philippines’ children today, UNICEF came up with the “1,000 Days” campaign to bring more attention to the matter.
“We want to bring attention to those days because it really forms an individual’s, or a child’s, or a human being’s life,” said Sylwander.
In order to drum up more support and resources, UNICEF got assistance from their newly appointed Celebrity Advocate for Children Anne Curtis.
As part of her responsibilities, Curtis organized an event called the Heroes for Children Run to raise funds and awareness for the “1,000 Days” campaign.
“In this golden window that they have, mothers should have this education in order for their child to grow and have their full potential in life,” said Curtis.
According to the actress, organizing an event that emphasizes the health and fitness is a perfect way to introduce the issue to a wider audience.
“The fun run, it being about health and fitness, and then of course the first 1,000 days of a child, learning about the health and nutrition. I think that it just complements each other.”
Curtis also said that she selected to address this particular issue due to the urgency that it warrants.
“This is an issue I think that is of importance and that needs to be dealt with now,” she said. “The resources that we will provide from this run will aid in educating mothers, will aid in malnourished children now.”