"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, October 16, 2008

P6B needed for govt feeding program next year

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said the government needs at least P6 billion to fully cover the nutritional needs of millions of preschool and Grades 1 and 2 pupils in the country for the next school year.

In a press statement, Gordon said the Arroyo administration proposed an increase from P2.5 billion to P3.34 billion budget allocation for the "Malusog na Simula, Yaman ng Bansa" nutrition program under the 2009 General Appropriations Bill.

The senator said next year's proposed budget for feeding program is still not enough to cover the nutrition needs of about 500,000 preschoolers, 2.5 million grade 1 pupils, and 2 million grade 2 pupils.

"We need at least six billion pesos to come up with an ideal feeding program, where each student is allocated P10 everyday for 120 days," Gordon said.

The National Nutrition Council, an attached agency of the Department of Health, now handles the feeding program which was previously under the Department of Education (DepEd).

Because of this, Gordon asked the government to put more funds on the health care and nutrition needs of the country's more than 17 million public school pupils in 43,000 public schools nationwide.

"Our pupils need not only quality education but also health and nutrition programs to ensure that they will perform well in school because they are properly nourished and physically fit," Gordon said.

"The inadequate fund for feeding programs is just part of a bigger problem. We also have to address the lack of school clinics and clean comfort rooms, and the shortage of health manpower," he added.

The senator said the country only has 154 medical officers, 617 school dentists, 3,254 school nurses, 570 dental aides, and 32 nutritionist-dieticians for the more than 17 million public school students in the country.

He said this translates to the current health personnel-student ratio which is one medical officer is to 80,000 students; one school dentist is to 20,000 students; and one school nurse is to 5,000 students.

"We have to realize that poor health stunts the physical and mental development of children seriously affecting their full potential to become productive citizens of the country," Gordon said.

The official said this is the importance of the passage of his 'text-for-change' bill, or the Health and Education Acceleration Program (HEAP).

He said the health care services among public school pupils would significantly improve and the needed health and medical personnel would be hired once HEAP is implemented.

Under the HEAP bill, telecommunications companies would remit to the HEAP Corporation a portion of their net profits from local text messaging to generate funds that would be used to finance the country's education and health care requirements.

Gordon: P6B needed for govt feeding program next year
Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV
10/16/2008 | 01:27 PM


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