A nutrition professor of the State-owned Benguet State University (BSU) underscored that good nutrition is a perquisite to good health.
However, Prof. Imelda O. Degay said that malnutrition problems remain to pose challenges at the individual, family to community levels.
She pointed out that since malnutrition is multi-causal in nature, people need multi-disciplinary actions, thus, the representation from different agencies in the crafting of strategic solutions to address the said problem.
Degay was one of the resource persons during the launching of the 45th celebration of the nutrition month with the theme ‘Healthy Diet Gawing Affordable for All’ which aims to promote food and nutrition security, especially affordability and ensure the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food and be free from hunger.
The BSU professor claimed that the campaign calls for relevant stakeholders to transform the food system and its key internal drivers to ensure affordability of nutritious foods as part of healthy diet aside from calling for actions towards encouraging more Filipinos to support macro and micro-level efforts to reduce inefficiencies in food systems, thus, making healthy diet more accessible, available and affordable for all.
Degay stated that this year’s theme is also aligned with the Philippine Development Plan, particularly Chapter 3 which is to reduce vulnerability and protect purchasing power with the intended outcome of expanded access of consumers to affordable, safe, and nutritious food, in attainment of sufficient and stable supply of food commodities.
According to her, one can be food or nutrition secure without an affordable diet and affordability is certainly an end goal of most if not all the 17 Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) which by themselves are also interrelated as one can affect the other.
Degay disclosed that globally, the impact of food security is that there are 3.1 billion people who are unable to afford an energy sufficient diet, 1.5 billion people who cannot afford diets that are nutrient adequate and 216 million people facing crisis levels of food insecurity in 2021.
By 2024, Degay stipulated that around 400 million people worldwide will face starvation which is considered to be alarming by experts.
Latest data from the NNC showed that 72.2 million Filipinos cannot afford a healthy diet in 2020, 5.3 million suffer from severe food insecurity in 2021, about 42 million experience moderate food insecurity and 35 percent are reported being unable to eat healthy and nutritious food.
She asserted that there are only two things to make available food on the table such as production or procurement since if people cannot grow, they should buy but if they buy, the question is that if they have the money where the same is true at the individual, family, community and national levels.
Degay emphasized that the country banks on the agriculture sector which has to contend with challenges in distribution, in which other agencies can also pay a key role.
In 2017, the cost of a healthy diet was P226.60 increasing annually to P242.53 in 2020. But many can afford them compared to the P400 prevailing minimum wage in the Cordillera.