MANILA, Philippines – If children don't have enough food to eat every day, can they stay healthy enough to reach their full potential?
Malnutrition and hunger are real issues that affect a child's future. According to the latest Global Hunger Index, an estimated 7 million children in the Philippines suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
These are children who don't have enough food to eat three times a day. Without proper nourishment, they cannot perform well in school. Without education, their chances for a better life are affected.
Since it began in 2014, the program has grown in many ways. In addition to getting more partner groups, U4HK is also working on ways to make its platform, www.u4hk.ph, more accessible and more visible this year to everyone who would like to help.
U4HK also created a hunger heat map in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) to pinpoint locations in the Philippines where hunger is prevalent.
“That then creates the effect of information leading to empowered action. What we hope to do overtime in digital is of course provide the necessary visibility and web traffic to u4hk.ph,” Mercado said.
Hopefully in the near future, Paolo hopes that more people will not only be aware of the problem, but to care enough to do something about it.
“When we were doing the initial brainstorming and consumer research on this [program], we were surprised to find out that many of the consumers interviewed were not aware of the real state of malnutrition in the country. They would say, ‘Malnutrition? Mayaman ang Pilipinas hindi na problema yan.’ (Malnutrition? The Philippines has enough resources. It’s not a problem)," Mercado shared. "Through U4HK, we would love to see more awareness, more empathy, and more care.”
Inspire action for a better Philippines
The evening’s host, Gretchen Ho, moderated a discussion among a panel of experts in different fields who discussed how hunger can be addressed, why it should be an issue that everyone should start acting on and how the general public can its part.
The panel highlighted the serious impact of malnutrition among children. Aside from stunting their physical and mental growth, it could also lead to serious health issues in adulthood such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity.
To close the forum, a video message from Her Excellency Leni Robredo, Vice-President Republic of the Philippines, was flashed on screen.
UH4K closed the forum by urging everyone to help fight malnutrition in his or her own simple way.