2019 National Outstanding Provincial Nutrition Action Officer
Marichu G. Tijing
The province of Misamis Occidental located in Northern Mindanao is surrounded by vast bodies of water. Its natural resources along the coastal areas and rice lands producing rice, corn, abaca, and cacao provide livelihood to its people. The provincial government aims to create better opportunities for agri-fishery industry, tourism, and other sustainable development initiatives, envisioning economically sustainable communities. This can be achieved by ensuring its people a healthy quality of life through the Provincial Nutrition Office.
Emerging from the health profession as Physical Therapist, Ms. Marichu G. Tijing became a public health nutrition worker and served as Provincial Nutrition Action Officer (PNAO) of Misamis Occidental for about 8 years now. She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration but wanted to acquire knowledge and competence related to her position. Thus, she’s currently in her second year for her master’s degree in Public Health. Knowing that addressing nutritional problems will be realized through multisectoral, intersectoral actions, she was determined to influence agency partners at the provincial, city and municipal levels to invest in nutrition programs. As fruits of her persistence, the provincial subsidy for the Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNSs) honoraria was increased from 300 pesos to 500 pesos per month, benefitting a total of 536 BNSs from 14 municipalities and 3 component cities in the province.
PNAO Tijing was able to hit one of the criteria for good governance in nutrition – integrating nutrition programs in the Provincial Investment Plan. Even if the environment sometimes has been unfavorable to her mission, she became instrumental in sustaining the functionality of the city and municipal nutrition committees. Through her efforts, PNAO Tijing was able to bring nutrition in the local agenda by advocating the basics of nutrition with the members of the league of municipalities in the province. From then on, the key people in the local government units have become more results driven as they were empowered with the knowledge on the vital role of nutrition in improving the quality of life and preserving life itself, a contributory to overall economic development of Misamis Occidental.
Since PNAO Tijing has a strong background on health and public administration, it comes naturally that the nutrition projects reflect her innovations and her actions became bolder. An uptake of nutrition knowledge and experience among the members of the Provincial Nutrition Committee (PNC) is broad and increasing. To support change, she was able to increase her efforts towards documenting, understanding, and drawing lessons from new and old practices and initiatives. She was able to encourage the Philippine National Police (PNP) at the province to issue a directive down to PNP and its line offices to provide commitments in the Provincial Nutrition Action Plan (PNAP). Vegetable gardens in these offices were then established and maintained, providing an accessible food source to nearby offices and communities.
Another fruitful advocacy effort of PNAO Tijing was when she partnered with the Provincial Veterinary Office to implement nutrition-sensitive programs such as chicken raising, goat and pig dispersal, targeting families of malnourished children. Furthermore, PNAO Tijing was able to bring in the nutrition bandwagon to the Gender and Development Office of the Province to scale up its commitment to nutrition, thereby supporting more nutrition projects for women. They were able to pursue a dietary supplementation for pregnant women for 120-days in targeted areas, ensuring proper nutrition in the early stages of the First 1000 Days of life. It is obvious that this admirable woman is following the principle of inclusiveness as she was also able to reach the Indigenous people in the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA) to make them beneficiaries of nutrition program.
Governor Philip T. Tan himself recognizes her passion and vision in building the cohesive support of the different offices in the province. Hence, PNAO Tijing was given additional funds to buy a vehicle to be used for the nutrition programs. In addition, her innovative ideas led to collaborations with local academic institutions. The project aims to maximize the manna food packs provided by the private sector for its feeding program by developing recipes for maximum variety of taste and flavors the children will surely enjoy.
With PNAO Tijing’s dedication and influence, and support of the PNC, numerous initiatives, and collaborations in the province paved way to access better health and nutrition services for the people of Misamis Occidental. She truly deserves to be awarded as the 2019 National Outstanding PNAO!
Dr. Marivic S. Samson, NNC