Koronadal City—Among 84, 788 preschool children in the province, at least 96 percent are well-nourished and not wasted, a recent Operation Timbang (OPT) report revealed.
Rudy Jimenea, Provincial Nutrition Action Officer, said in the last three years, since 2017, malnutrition among preschoolers in South Cotabato is declining.
“The flagship program of the Tamayo Administration is to develop human resources–focus on nutrition-that coincides with the thrust on free hospitalization. The governor believed that with healthy residents, development continues,” he stressed out.
Malnutiriton identifies three indicators–wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age), and undernutrition (low weight-for-age).
Data showed undernutrition among preschool in the province was at 4. 36 percent in 2017 and it went down to 3. 41 percent in 2018.
On the other hand, wasting was 2. 51 in 2017 percent to 1. 72 percent in 2019. It usually indicates recent and severe weight loss, because a person has not had enough food to eat and/or they have had an infectious disease, such as diarrhea, which has caused them to lose weight.
Stunting, meanwhile, was 11. 57 percent in 2017 to 8. 45 percent this year. The most direct causes are inadequate nutrition (not eating enough or eating foods that lack growth-promoting nutrients) and recurrent infections or chronic or diseases that cause poor nutrient intake, absorption or utilization.
The Provincial Government of South Cotabato aimed to pour in nutrition interventions to top Top 20 Barangays with a high prevalence of malnutrition in the next few years, Jimenea said during a media meet up Kapihan sa Kapitolyo.
The new administration will download interventions like vitamin supplementation, supplemental feeding to towns as fast as possible. All of the foodstuffs will be delivered immediately to every town because we don’t want that it will stay longer in our storage area,”
“During a recent program review, we discovered that there were fewer interventions among children aged six months to 36 months or three years old. ,” he said.
Angela Frugalidad, Nutrition Officer, said there are 3. 39 percent or 2532 children who are undernourished, 1.75 percent or 2670 children are wasted, and 8. 45 percent or 6420 children are stunted.
“This administration is pursuing a comprehensive nutrition program that is sustainable. Simpler actions but attainable,” Frugalidad said.
The town of Tupi scored the highest number of preschool children who are wasted with 4. 49 percent while the town of Tampakan recorded the most number of undernourished children with 5. 88 percent in the province.
However, the latest data revealed a whopping 15. 88 percent of preschool children are stunted in Tboli, putting the town on the top list with a high prevalence of stunting among municipalities in South Cotabato.
At present, three major nutrition programs are focused on improving the nutrition of children in South Cotabato.
The implementation of Batak or Buntis Alagaan Tamang Atensyon Kailangan supplementary feeding for pregnant women aims to ensure that no babies come with low birth weight.
“A number of studies have reported that poor birth weight leads to increased risk of disease morbidity and mortality due to malnutrition. Greater morbidity among children with LBW results in poor physical growth and development that is perceived as malnutrition,” Frugalidad said.
Beneficiaries are identified in 27 barangays from 10 towns in the province.
Bulig Mo Bwas Damlag Ko is another food assistance program intended for wasted and severely wasted high school children. There are 500 beneficiaries. They are provided with hot meal feeding for 30 days.
Sagop Bata is a community based supplementary feeding program for underweight and severely underweight preschoolers. At present, there are 105 beneficiaries who are granted with hot meal feeding for 60 days. The program gave out multivitamins and vegetable seeds for the parents to plant.
Beneficiaries are from three identified barangays from Lake Sebu and Norala.
“What we are advancing is the increase in knowledge among our constituents about good nutrition. The farther the communities are, the lesser are their opportunities to receive information,” the nutrition team added.