Considering the present health
crisis, the JFA calls for the continuation of health, nutrition, and other
essential care and services for children, along with pregnant and lactating
mothers, and adolescents who suffer the most from rising hunger in the country
as their physical requirements for adequate food and proper nutrition must be
met to ensure their survival and health during the pandemic.
It is in this light that, we,
the Joining Forces Alliance, appeal to the government to support continued
access of children, pregnant and lactating mothers, and adolescents to health,
nutrition, and other essential care and services during the pandemic. Specifically,
We call on the Department
of Health and the Local Government Units to:
minimize risks for children from the infection by:
Intensifying information dissemination campaigns and
drives to increase the knowledge of the public on COVID-19 infection prevention
and control protocols using online and offline platforms and including
child-friendly materials in various languages.
Ensuring that work places are compliant to COVID-19
precautions for parents and caregivers who have returned to work to minimize
the risk of bringing home the virus and infecting other family members.
Emphasizing non-pharmacological interventions such as
risk mitigation and containment to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19
while a vaccine and treatment drugs are still being developed.
Ensure that COVID-19 infection prevention and control
measures are strictly complied with.
To sustain and even intensify the delivery of health programmes
and services, specifically by
Maintaining the uninterrupted delivery of immunization
schedules for children and of essential health and nutrition care services
including sexual and reproductive health services such as family planning, in
line with the Department of Health (DOH) issued Department Memorandum No.
2020-0150 on April 29, 2020. The
directive was issued to ensure that local government units, health service
providers and partner NGOs to also give importance to other
health issues aside from COVID-19 so
that vulnerable and marginalized groups continue to access quality necessary health
Intensifying the implementation of national health and
nutrition policies and guidelines supporting optimal infant and young child
feeding, such as the Nutrition Cluster Advisories issued by the National
Nutrition Council (NNC) regarding the prescribed contents of food packs and the
strict compliance to the Milk Code, which bans the unethical promotion of milk
formula at all times. The DOH Department Memorandum No. 2020-0231 on the
standardized regulations to be followed by LGUs, NGOs, private groups and
individuals on milk formula donations including feeding bottles and teats
during emergency situations where the health and nutrition of infants and young
children should also be strictly implemented and monitored.
Ensuring that enough budgets are allocated for
Barangay Health Stations and Rural Health Units to be operational and equipped to
provide quality, essential health and nutrition services to children, pregnant
and lactating mothers, and adolescents including services for mental wellness, mental
health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) services.
Ensuring that facility and community-based health and
nutrition workers are properly trained and able to provide
non-discriminatory services, including sexual and reproductive health services
to adolescents and young people.
We call on the Department of
Ensure that enough handwashing facilities and hygiene
essentials are available when schools re-open in compliance with DepEd Order
No. 014-2020 entitled Guidelines on the Required Health Standards in Basic
Education Offices and Schools.
Provide capacity building for teachers and other
school personnel about COVID-19, its prevention and control.
Allot a regular period during class hours to provide
students with relevant information about COVID-19.
Implement the school feeding program for all children
once face to face classes are authorized.
We call on the Department of
Expedite the release of cash assistance and livelihood
support to rice farmers and fisherfolks to mitigate the impact of the
quarantine on their earning capacity.
Encourage backyard and urban gardening by providing
seeds and other agricultural inputs to help address nutrition and food security
issues among affected families.
We call on the Inter-Agency
Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to:
Design COVID-19 messages that convey and emphasize the importance of infection prevention and control including
personal prevention and containment measures;
Come up with simplified guidelines on how to implement
national protocols and guidelines at the various tiers of the LGUs.
Mandate all LGUs to cascade national protocols and
guidelines down to the community level and ensure that preparedness and
contingency plans are reviewed and updated.
Enforce the strict implementation of the Philippine Milk
Code (Executive Order No. 51), Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act (Republic
Act No. 11148), and the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (Republic
Act No. 10821) that prohibit the promotion of breastmilk substitutes as
donations during emergencies and recommend measures to help mothers
experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and problems;
Ensure that social protection measures of the
different line agencies (Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department
of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Labor and Employment
among others) such as livelihood support, cash assistance, emergency subsidy
programs and other support for affected families mandated under the Bayanihan
to Heal as One Act are distributed in a timely and coordinated manner.
As a signatory to the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, the Philippine government is
mandated to uphold the rights of children to survival, development, protection,
and participation. In this crucial
period of the COVID-19 pandemic, we appeal to the government to undertake
concrete actions to prioritize the health and survival of our children.