Malnutrition

OMNI Micronutrient Fact Sheets: Philippines

Micronutrient malnutrition -- an insufficiency of nutrients such as vitamin A, iron, and iodine in the diet -- affects more than 2 billion people worldwide. Deficiencies of these micronutrients are problems of public health significance in the Philippines, occurring mostly among preschool children, and pregnant and lactating women.

Over the past decade, National Nutrition Surveys show a steady decline in the prevalence of xerophthalmia (nutritional blindness) due to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among children. However, VAD remains endemic in the regions of Southern Tagalog, Eastern and Western Visayas, Western Minadanao, and the disadvantaged urban areas of Manila, where xerophthalmia affects 1.5% to 3% of children. National vitamin A supplementation campaigns have been underway since 1993.

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA), the most pervasive of micronutrient deficiencies, increased from 27% in 1982 to 37% in 1987, particularly affecting infants, young children, and pregnant and lactating women but declined again according to the 1993 survey, particularly among infants.

The prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) varies widely by region. The 1993 National Nutrition Survey showed goiter had increased among school girls and pregnant women prompting massive distribution of iodized oil and intensified efforts to iodize salt. In the endemic mountainous regions, the prevalence of iodine deficiency is as high as 90% and cretinism has been reported.

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VAD causes blindness and leads to increased risk of mortality and morbidity in children. It has long been identified as a significant public health problem in the Philippines. The 1993 National Nutrition Survey data indicate that xerophthalmia among preschool children declined steadily over the past decade, from 3.5% to 0.9%. Howe

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