3 Davao Sur towns placed under nutrition monitoring

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 July) — Three municipalities in Davao del Sur have been placed under close monitoring in terms of nutrition due to the poverty incidence in the province, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) in the region said following the launch of a Nutrition Month campaign earlier this year.

In an interview, NNC-XI regional coordinator Dr. Maria Teresa Ungson said that these areas–Hagonoy, Magsaysay, and Digos City–are not exactly depressed or critical in terms of nutrition.

She, however, said these areas need significant improvement as Davao del Sur has been listed by the 2015 Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) as one of the top 10 provinces in the country where the number of poor families is high.

The focus of this year’s Nutrition Month is on the first 1000 days of life.

This year’s theme is “First 1000 Days ni baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan!”

“It highlights the first 1000 days of life–starting from the first day of conception until the second birthday of the child–globally considered as the golden window of opportunity for interventions that aim to achieve maximum potential of a child’s growth and development,” Ungson said.

She added that based on a 2015 report by the Department of Health on zero to six years old preschool children, the entire Davao Region has an under nutrition prevalence rate of 5.44 percent.

She said this number has gradually declined since 2013 (6.18 percent) and 2014 (5.9 percent).

Davao del Sur has the highest prevalence of under nutrition at 10.95 percent.

Part of the interventions of the NNC is deploying barangay nutrition scholars (BNS) to barangays where health monitoring is needed.

In Hagonoy, 21 BNS will monitor its 21 barangays, 25 BNS will be sent to Magsaysay’s 22 barangays, while the 26 barangays of Digos will have 39.

These BNS will educate families and pregnant women on the importance of nutrition–from breastfeeding to proper diet, including proper transition to solid food.

They will ensure that pregnant women comply with the four recommended prenatal visits and undergo regular counselings.

“We try our best to educate people at a local level,” Ungson said, citing the challenges to their efforts such as the lack of interest of some people and the little amount of care that parents give to their children.

She said every challenge in nutrition starts with hunger. “It won’t end if food security won’t be solved.”

In Davao City, malnourished children abound in the districts of Agdao, Marilog, Tugbok, and Paquibato.

The Nutrition Month is held every July to create greater awareness among Filipinos on the importance of nutrition. Presidential Decree 491 (1974) or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines mandates the NNC to lead and coordinate the nationwide campaign.

“This year’s campaign aims to create awareness on the significance of good maternal nutrition and proper infant and young child feeding practices,” Ungson said.

This includes focusing on breastfeeding for the first six months and giving appropriate complementary food on the sixth month while continuing breastfeeding.

“Women who are underweight before and during pregnancy and those that have short stature are at risk of meternal deaths and are likely to give birth to low birth weight infants,” Ungson said. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)