Manila, Philippines - As the political race heats up for the coming 2013 senatorial and local elections, Filipino actor-producer Dingdong Dantes will run, not for any elective post in the 2013 polls nor after aswangs like in his latest movie TikTik, but in the world’s biggest children’s race on October 16, World Food Day, at the Yńares Center, Rizal Capitol Compound, Antipolo City if only to urge governments and world leaders to decisively address child malnutrition and ensure protection of child rights in times of emergencies and disasters.
Organized by Save the Children, the leading independent organization for children, and its partners, the Race for Survival is a 42-kilometer charity relay marathon where more than 20,000 children in over 40 countries around the world will pass the baton on the same day to beat Kenyan Patrick Makau’s world marathon record of 2 hours 3 minutes 38 seconds.
Every year, 7 million children worldwide die before their 5th birthday. “About 57,000 Filipino children die before their 5th birthday, due to preventable causes like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of roughly one-third of these child deaths globally,” said Anna Lindenfors, Country Director of Save the Children in the Philippines.
Based on official reports, under-five mortality (or deaths per 1000 live births) from 1999-2008 is highest in ARMM (94) followed by Eastern Visayas (64), Mimaropa (49), Cagayan Valley (46), Davao (44) and Western Visayas (43). Under-five death is lowest in Metro Manila (24). Child mortality is higher in rural areas (46) than in urban centers (28), and is highest among the poor and mothers with no education.
“Ironically, the solutions are simple and readily available: more breastfeeding mothers, more children immunized, and more good food for children facing malnutrition and starvation,” Lindenfors explained.
“There are simple, proven and cost effective solutions to tackle malnutrition, and we are calling on world leaders to take urgent action,” said Lindenfors. “We need political commitment in order to win this fight – for the thousands of children in the Philippines who die needlessly each year.”
YesPinoy Foundation, chaired by Dingdong Dantes and Rizal provincial government, headed by Governor Jun-Jun Yńares will partner with Save the Children and other organizations for the Race for Survival, with National Youth Commission chair Leon Flores III, Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette “BH” Herrera-Dy, and the President’s cousin and social entrepreneur Bam Aquino confirming attendance to the said event in Antipolo. The children’s race will also be held simultaneously in Koronadal City, in partnership with South Cotabato provincial government led by Governor Arthur Pingoy Jr.
“We at YesPinoy Foundation strongly support the Race for Survival, simply because there is no future we can talk about when we cannot protect the young and the youth from hunger and impacts of disasters,” said Dingdong Dantes.
The Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd) and the provincial governments of Rizal and South Cotabato, the city governments of Taguig, Paranaque and all the municipalities in South Cotabato and selected municipalities of Sultan Kudarat are participating in the October 16 global race. The race will be held at the Provincial Capitol compound of Rizal and at the South Cotabato Sports Complex in Koronadal City.
Save the Children earlier reported that the flooding unleashed by Southwest monsoon rains last August affected more than 4 million people, half of which are children. Save the Children stressed the need to provide immediate attention to children’s special needs during emergencies. The longer children and their families stay in evacuation centers, the more they are exposed to unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
In response, Save the Children has distributed pre-made relief packages, containing household materials, drinking water and hygiene items to flood-affected children and families in Bulacan, Laguna, Pampanga and Metro Manila. Save the Children is also holding hygiene promotion sessions for families and breastfeeding promotion sessions and distributed newborn kits for lactating mothers. Child-friendly spaces have been set up for children to play in and temporary learning spaces for school-aged children to resume classes.
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