Less undernourished pre-school kids in Surigao City in 2012

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – The malnutrition rate among children below seven years old in the city last year was lower compared to the 2011 figure, a health official said.

Based on the consolidated report on malnutrition prevalence, 1580 or 10.88 percent of 18,259 children below seven years were found to be undernourished or underweight in 2012.

In 2011, malnutrition prevalence was 11.29 percent or 1533 of 17,371 children who underwent weighing.

Florence R. Dela Cruz, city nutritionist and dietician told MindaNews the 2011 malnutrition rate was .07-percent higher than in 2010.

Dela Cruz said 429 children — 200 females and 229 males — were severely underweight in 2011. Last year, 407 children — 228 males and 179 females — were severely underweight.

She attributed the slight reduction to their activities in the city’s 54 villages such as deworming, giving of vitamins, and feeding programs.

She also gave credit to several nongovernment organizations like Fruitful Harvest, Sisters of Charity, Saint Paul Batch 86 and Greenstone Corporation that have feeding activities in areas where malnutrition prevalence is high.

She said these feeding activities would run for 90-120 days every year, including teaching malnourished children about proper hygiene and other health lessons.

The results of “operation timbang” (weigh) in 2011 showed five mainland barangays and five island barangays occupying the top 10 list of areas with the highest malnutrition rates. These were Canlanipa 19.73%; Capalayan 19.78%; Bitaugan (Is.) 20%; Catadman (Is.) 20.34%; Mabua 20.36%; Cagutsan (Is) 21.05%; Balibayon 23%; San Pedro (Is.) 27.35%; Mapawa 27.59% and Libuac (Is.) 30.67%.

Last year, five island villages and five others in the mainland landed on the list of 10. These were Anomar 24.86 %; Cagutsan (Is.) 24.14 %; Punta Bilar 23.91%, Cantiasay (Is.) 21.54%; Zaragoza (Is.) 21.31%; Mapawa 21.19%; Danawan (Is.) 20.79%; Day-asan 20.09%; Catadman (Is.) 20 % and Mabini 19.28 %.

The city health office failed to reach their target of reducing the malnutrition rate by at least three percent last year, but dela Cruz said their office aims to reduce it to 10 percent by 2014.

To attain this, she said they have 80 barangay nutrition scholars who will focus on the malnourished children in different villages.

De la Cruz cited inadequate food intake, poor sanitation and unhealthy environment, and inadequate care for children and mothers as among the causes of malnutrition.

The National Nutrition Council (NCC) said malnutrition is a condition of the body resulting from lack or excess of one or more important nutrients. Poverty is often cited as the cause of this problem, though the (NCC) has insisted that one can have a well-balanced diet even if he or she is poor.

A child is considered malnourished if his or her weight is not ideal for his or her age. A five-year-old, for example, should have a weight of at least 14.1 kilos while a one-year-old should have a weight of eight kilos based on the standard used by the NNC. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)