It's all too easy to avert our eyes from children begging on the streets of Manila. It's even easier to just give them money and some food, so we can say that we did something to help these starving kids. But it shouldn't stop there. There has got to be something more we can all do to save the next generation.
That’s what nonprofit Save The Children has been trying to do by having its first "Anti-hunger and Malnutrition" Media Awards. The organization is trying to put the focus back on these marginalized kids so that our government, so that we all can do something more about it. The media has been a big help in spreading the word about this.
“This [Media Awards] is not just an affirmation of the media’s noble work but it is a challenge and reminder for everyone that we need to do a lot more. By ensuring that the issue of hunger and child malnutrition is at the heart of national discourse in the upcoming elections, we can save more lives and indeed change children’s futures,” Save the Children Country Director Ned Olney said.
"Most outstanding" media awardees were Fritzie Rodriguez for her article "Plenty of food, little nutrition in Benguet", Veejay Villafranca for his photograph "Silent Emergency", Rappler.com's video animation "We Can Stop Hunger", and I-Witness' documentary "Mga Anak ng Pugad Lawin" by Kara David.
Quoting Nelson Madela, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children," David said when accepting her special citation award for Most Outstanding News Documentary. She added, "Let's look at our children. If they are ok, then our country is ok. If our children can't eat three times a day, then hindi natin masasabi na successful ang bayan natin."
The media awards is part of Save The Children's Lahat Dapat campaign, the non-profit organization's biggest campaign yet to end child hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines. It seeks to recognize media practitioners and their work in stressing putting an end to hunger and malnutrition as an urgent national concern.
Lahat Dapat Campaign
In the study entitled Sizing Up the Stunting and Child Malnutrition Problem in the Philippines conducted by the Save The Children organization, it provides an understanding of child malnutrition status in the country, most especially in impoverished communities. Child malnutrition can manifest in different ways, a few of which are stunting (having children whose height is less than the average) and wasting (having children with weight below average standards).
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Back in 2000, the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) was to halve the proportion of people whose income is below the poverty line and the percentage of children under five years old who are underweight. At that time, the Philippines was one of the countries in the world that accounts for most of the global burden of malnutrition. In 2011, we ranked 9th in terms of countries with the highest burden of stunting–a total of 3.6 million children to be exact–and 10th among the countries with the highest burden of wasting.
The national nutrition surveys show that the prevalence of stunting among children under five declined gradually, while the percentage of underweight children in the same age group was reduced. However, the government admits that we are running short to achieve that goal because of poverty. As it stands, one in 10 Filipino families is living in extreme poverty, a figure that hardly changed since 2006. In 2013, surveys showed that two out of 10–around three million–children aged zero to five were underweight. Three out of 10, around 3.1 million, were found short for their age. And one out of ten or 778,00 were too thin for their age.
While the government has done productive work in ensuring the Filipino children's way to optimum health such as putting importance on maternal health during pregnancy and the clamor for breastfeeding newborns for the first six months of life, we clearly we have a long way to go in achieving our goal–and every Filipino's involvement is vital in spreading awareness and helping enable change for the next generation–for our children.
You can get involved with the campaign online by downloading avatars, cover photos, and posters designed for social media here. For more information, visit Save The Children's website here.