LOCAL government units (LGUs) are prime movers in nutrition program implementation, and they must continuously scale up their interventions.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself has instructed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to coordinate the delivery of these services by the LGUs.
Hence, their local nutrition programs and projects should focus on the first 1,000 days of the child, which is from pregnancy up to the child’s second birthday (0-24 months).
In the recent local planning sessions, a common challenge posed by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) were the high prevalence of stunting, wasting, obesity, and other forms of malnutrition.
Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator Nona Tad-y said, addressing the above should be the focus of local efforts with more than one third of below five years old in the country being stunted or short for the age as of 2015 National Nutrition Survey, while wasting or thin for height, is more than seven percent.
Stunting, according to NNC, is caused by chronic hunger while wasting is the effect of short term hunger but a person can die in the long run.
Other forms of malnutrition include micronutrient deficiencies in Vitamin A, Iron, and Iodine or the “hidden hunger” are brought about by inadequate supplementation program by local governments’ health providers.
As to the prevalence of obesity, NNC said 4 percent or half a million under 5 years old in the country are obese, 3 million among adolescents, and about 18 million among adults.
Tad-y said that major interventions should be on Intensive Pregnancy services that include pre-natal, care services and counseling and Promotion of Infant and Young Child Feeding.
“Equally an important intervention is the Dietary Supplementation Program for pregnant women and for Infants 6-23 months,” Tad-y said.
Meanwhile, Rejie Guillen of the National Nutrition Council Central Office Programs and Projects Division, said during one of the local nutrition planning sessions, that the support of local officials, nutrition action officers, planners and budget officers is vital.
“Nutrition is a multi-factorial issue, seeking vertical and horizontal convergence,” Guillen said.
The NNC-6 has just finished facilitating the Local Nutrition Action Plan (LNAP) Workshop in the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, Capiz and Negros Occidental, participated in by some officials from the towns, cities and provinces and their provincial health officers, nutrition action officers, planning officers, and budget officers. (NNC/ESS)