Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Council sees decline in hunger incidence in Central Visayas

Cebu City (11 July) -- National Nutrition Council (NNC-7) regional coordinator Parolita Mission expressed optimism that hunger incidence in Central Visayas has declined with the strong collaborative efforts of partner agencies in implementing the various hunger mitigation programs.

Mission during the Kapihan sa PIA this morning that tackled the problem of hunger incidence in observance of July as National Nutrition Month said they are awaiting the 2nd quarter results of the Social Weather Station (SWS) on the country's hunger incidence expected to come out at the end of the month.

The 1st quarter results of the SWS survey this year, showed that families who experienced voluntary hunger at least once for the past three months has reached a record high of 19 percent or about 3.4M households. The Visayas Region had the least incidence of hunger at15 percent.

Mission said there is a direct link between hunger and malnutrition although she admitted that hunger incidence is multi-factorial but that poverty is the root cause of the problem.

Other factors attributed to malnutrition aside from poverty is the lack of education on what nutritious foods to eat as nutrition is essentially eating a balanced diet with less on fats and more on high fiber foods such as green leafy vegetables and fruits, large family size and eating habits, this is learned.

In response to address the hunger incidence in the region, two major hunger mitigation programs of the Dept. of Agriculture (DA-7) are the Barangay Food Terminals (BFT) and the ‘Gulayan ng Masa.’

DA-7 regulatory division chief Marina Hermoso in the same forum, said the BFT is envisioned to increase farmers’ productivity level by providing them a specific market area where to directly sell their goods eliminating middlemen in the process which could earn more profits for the farmers.

Putting up BFTs on the other hand, needs the help of the local government units in identifying the specific area for the BFT, this is said.

The DA-7 is also distributing one pack of assorted vegetable seedlings for planting under its ‘Gulayan ng Masa’ program. Seedlings include ampalaya, squash, eggplant, okra and string beans as a measure to decrease hunger incidence with a steady supply of food in one’s own backyard.

Both DA-7 programs however, are more concentrated in Oriental Negros where hunger incidence is quite high compared with the rest of the provinces in the region, according to Hermoso.

In order to promote good nutrition, the Dept. of Health (DOH-7) launched two programs namely breastfeeding and complementary feeding under the infant and young child feeding program.

DOH-7 nutritionist Juliet Tutor said their infant and young child feeding program is divided into two phases --- the hospital-based and the community-based where they conduct advocacy training on the importance of breastfeeding to achieve good nutrition for the child.

Tutor said they have accomplished their breastfeeding advocacy to 11 hospitals in Cebu, two in Bohol and one in Oriental Negros while all the four provinces in the region down to the municipal level have been oriented.

Mission bared the activities for the month-long nutrition celebration which include a mural painting and vegetable cooking contest on the 19th at SM Entertainment Plaza while their culminating activity on the 27th of this month will award LGUs that are considered best implementers of nutrition-related programs during the National Nutrition Action Officers Congress. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)

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