Foundation of the Bangsamoro Nutrition Council accelerated

The BARMM administration building in Cotabato City (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office – BARMM)

COTABATO CITY – A group of lawmakers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has called for the Bangsamoro Nutrition Council (BNC) to be established to combat the high prevalence of malnutrition in the region.

Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) – BARMM Deputy (MP) Amilbahar Mawallil, the lead author of the proposal, has tabled Parliamentary Law 130 which seeks to establish the BNC.

Under the proposed action, it will be subordinate to the Ministry of Health – BARMM – and will serve as the primary nutritional agency in natural and man-made disasters.

“It is therefore crucial to institutionalize mechanisms such as health care and proper nutrition to address these issues,” Mawallil said in a statement on Wednesday.

Citing the results of the 8th National Nutrition Survey, Mawallil said the region has the second highest prevalence of stunted malnutrition at 39 percent; the second highest rate of chronic energy deficiency at 13.2 percent; the third highest prevalence of anemia in the elderly at 26.6 percent; and the fifth highest prevalence of adult current smokers at 28 percent.

Co-authors of the regional bill are Laisa Alamia, Rasol Mitmug Jr., Suharto Ambolodto, Baintan Ampatuan, Don Mustapha Loong, Abraham Burahan, and Sittie Shahara Mastura.

“Food security is of crucial importance for the achievement and maintenance of a healthy state of nutrition,” the authors of the draft law stated in a statement of reasons.

Through the proposed Food Council, the BARMM government will put in place a mechanism to facilitate collaboration between agencies, sectors and stakeholders.

The BARMM has developed its Regional Action Plan 2020-2022 as a strategic and comprehensive plan to respond to the food problems of the Bangsamoro region.

There are still gaps that need to be closed if the region is to meet not just national but global nutritional standards.

“Our ongoing experience with coronavirus disease is a strong reminder that the pandemic will only exacerbate existing inequalities in the country and in the Bangsamoro region,” the statement said.

The bill stipulates that the council will consist of 14 members representing various ministries and sectors, including non-Moro tribal peoples, women, youth and settler communities.

Its powers and functions include promoting food security and formulating regional food and health policies in the region.

The BARMM includes the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi; the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi; and the 63 villages in six cities of North Cotabato Province. (PNA)