Koronadal City—New law to curb malnutrition in the country rolled out in South Cotabato, ensuring that no newborn babies would come out with low birth weight, according to Maria Ana Uy, Provincial Nutrition Action Officer, said during Kapihan sa Kapitolyo recently.
“By this time, our focus is not only the health and nutrition of the children but of the pregnant mothers as well,” Uy shared.
Uy and her team will add tinigib, white ground corn, instead of rice in the Buntis Alagaan, Tamang Nutrisyon Kailangan (BATAK) food package they will be distributing this year.
“White ground corn is a great way to help meet the pregnant’s body daily energy needs,” Uy said. The fiber in white ground corn is helping the pregnant woman feel full without worrying high sugar intake unlike when eating rice. Tinigib promotes regular digestive functioning.
Each cup of grits has about 1.5 milligrams of iron, which supplies eight percent for women. That iron helps cells produce energy, and it’s also important for healthy red blood cells – the ones that circulate oxygen throughout your body.
However, she said the package is undergoing laboratory activities. Uy said the new package will be launched in September.
Last year, the Provincial Nutrition Committee launched the Buntis Alagaan, Tamang Nutriyon Kailangan which aims to ensure that no pregnant mothers will give birth to a low weight baby by giving out food package from a private partner Hapag-Asa. The Manna Pack is composed of rice, soya, and dehydrated vegetable.
Out of the 500 pregnant women beneficiaries, 88 percent gives birth to healthy babies, Uy said.
The optimum growth of a child builds up during his life in his mother’s womb until the day before his second birthday, Uy said.
“You are what you eat. It is proven through studies that the food you eat is relatively related to your health and growth,” she said. She dismissed reports that the height of a person is entirely dependent on his genes.
Among the provinces in the Philippines, South Cotabato is one of the 33 provinces with a high incidence of stunting, a consequence of severe and long-lasting malnutrition in which a child fails to achieve the expected height for his or her age.
The prevalence rate of stunting among young children in South Cotabato five years ago is 13.5% but it went down to 9.30 percent in 2018 because of various nutrition interventions.
“Filipinos in this part of the country are not milk drinkers,” Uy explained.
She said that milk and milk products represent important sources of protein. It can boost calcium and vitamin D levels–both crucial for development and the prevention of disease. Milk stimulates growth and maintains healthy bones and teeth.
“We have an exclusive mother’s breastmilk in the first six months of a baby and animal milk and milk products as he or she grows up,” Uy pointed out.
South Cotabato noted a decreasing number of malnutrition in the last 15 years. In 2018, the province reported a four percent prevalence rate of malnutrition. In the last five years, the province bagged the Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN). It is vying for the highest National Honor Award this year.