Vigan City, the capital town of Ilocos Sur, is a 4th class component city located on the western coast of the large island of Luzon, facing the West Philippine Sea. It is one of the few cities with history of preserved Spanish and Asian architecture that resulted to being recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of the 7 Wonder Cities of the World. But more than the exemplary work on heritage preservation, the city is also known for its outstanding performance in meeting the health and nutrition needs of its asset, the Bigueños.
Despite of the threat of the Covid-19, the City Nutrition Committee continued to invest in the Bigueños health and nutrition through sustainable implementation of various interventions and by creating resilience toward positive nutrition outcomes as a response to the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN). With its multi-sectoral approach and participatory governance in addressing its nutrition challenges and inequities, the city crafted the City Nutrition Action Plan as its blueprint in achieving the city’s vision of a healthy heritage community. The inputs of various partners and stakeholders had greatly contributed to its development.
Programs promoting maternal health and child nutrition is nothing new in the city. With the goal of a better nutrition and health outcomes, the city continues to intensify the implementation of the First 1000 Days program. One of its sustained innovations is the “Itlog Para sa Nanay at Sanggol na Malusog” was launched in 2018, the city provided eggs for the nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women for 90 days. In 2021, fortified products such as iodized salt, breads, margarines and others were added to the supplementation. The project was able to ensure that 98% of the beneficiaries resulted to babies with normal weight and height. Also, the city maintained the breastfeeding rooms located in the Vigan City Hall and Public Market, the 39 Barangay Nutrition Committees were also able to establish their own breastfeeding stations in the barangay. A monitoring system for the government and private institutions were ensured and supported with City Ordinance No. 17 of 2016 “Ordinance on Promoting Breastfeeding Stations in all Government and Commercial Establishments in Vigan.” Since 2008, annual simultaneous breastfeeding activities are conducted, as supported by City Resolution No. 41 of 2008 declaring August 7 every year as mass breastfeeding activity in the city. Furthermore, immunization, vitamin a supplementation, deworming, micronutrient supplementation and other supplementation for pregnant, lactating and children were strengthened and sustained.
Moreover, safe spaces such as the Children’s Ecology and Energy Recreational Zone or the CHEER Zone located at Mira Hills Fil Spanish Park, City Plaza and Barangay Playground and Plaza were developed and maintained. In 2021, a resolution was passed by the City Nutrition Committee as CNC Resolution No. 8 of 2021 or the Resolution supporting the overweight and obesity management and prevention program by providing safe spaces and nutrition hour for health lifestyle activities at the city and barangays of Vigan. It highlighted the CNC’s support to the formulation of City Land Use Plan 2021-2023 where some of the major roads in the city will be converted into bike lane and the Nutrition Hour to be allotted to Barangay Plazas for the conduct of various healthy lifestyle activities.
Information Dissemination and Promotion of Good Nutrition & formulation of various nutrition related policies have been one of the most valued strategy as this involves empowering the people. Thus, in almost all activities of the city, health-nutrition education, policy awareness and IEC materials distribution are incorporated such as the Tignay a Panangtarabay, an outreach program of the City to the barangay wherein it is a venue for nutrition education, the Panagdalliasat: The Vigan City Community Based Rehabilitation Program where Persons who used drugs were given information about food and nutrition among others. Furthermore, the 39 Barangay Nutrition Committees oversee that information dissemination is implemented at their level and reaching all constituents especially the pregnant, lactating, senior citizen, adolescents, PWD and others.
The City’s Adolescent health programs went full swing in 2017. With the increasing health needs of every adolescent, this year the program was expanded. The Bigueño Adolescent Hub, a Level III Adolescent Friendly Facility was relocated and reopened at the Vigan Conservation Complex. The city also worked on establishing more Adolescent Hubs through the public schools and the barangays. Additionally, through the funding and the goals of the Capacitating Urban Communities for Peace and Development (CUCPD), the CNC come up with the idea to create the Junior Barangay Nutrition Scholars as youth counterpart of the BNS. Also, the Junior BNS attended the Basic Course for Barangay Nutrition Scholars and were deployed in their respective barangays as nutrition advocates.
In ensuring full capacities among health and nutrition workers specifically the Barangay Nutrition Scholars and the Local Nutrition Committee (City & Barangay), the city continues to conduct various capability trainings even with the limitations of Covid-19. Online platforms such as the ZOOM Application and Facebook live were utilized to conduct health and nutrition webinars, some of the webinars conducted were the Saluad KaiVigan that focuses on Nutrition in Emergencies and Health and Nutrition Webinar Series tackling Breastfeeding, Family Planning, Nutrition Resilience and others that was attended by CNC, BNC, School Coordinators and the General Public. One of the breakthroughs for the BNS educational growth is the conduct of “Training on the Management of Dietary Supplementation Program for 6-23 months preschool children and nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women. Furthermore, the BNS were continually supported by the city in terms of honorarium, material support and financial support. In 2021, laptops and printers were provided to them as response to the increasing needs for proper documentation of reports.
Guaranteeing the implementation of nutrition programs at the barangay and school level, the city continues to rewards their good practices such as Best Barangay Nutrition Committee, Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholars, Best School in a Garden, Best Barangay Garden, Most Maintained Canteen during Pandemic, Best School Nutrition Committee, Long Serving BNS and among others. We also recognized our partners through the Partners Appreciation Night with the Best Non-Government Organizations.
With the commitment of the government and its people, Vigan has achieved milestones in health and nutrition. These had contributed to the significant decrease in the prevalence rate in all forms of malnutrition. With 1.88% in 2017 to 0.98% in 2021 for underweight, 8.0% in 2017 to 1.92% in 2021 for stunting, 0.59% in 2017 to 0.20% in 2021 for wasting and 1.11% in 2017 to 0.20% in 2021 for overweight and obese.
Overall, sustaining gains in health and nutrition outcomes are indicators of meeting our goals for a healthy heritage community. We take pride that Vigan City has moved forward in championing its Nutrition Program. This means that the city is not only investing for the future but it is also conserving its true heritage – its People.
By: City Nutrition Committee of Vigan City