Across the country, local governments are at the forefront to cope with the blows this pandemic has brought to health and nutrition well-being of the population. All have initiated distributing food commodities (either ready to cook or fresh vegetables), vitamins, hygiene kits, among others to the general public and the more vulnerable groups of children, pregnant and lactating mothers, senior citizens and persons with disability.
In Bicol, the local government of the Municipality of Guinobatan, Albay, through the Rural Health Unit (RHU) and Nutrition Office did not cease to deliver services to children, pregnant and elderly, cognizant of the dire need of the groups, in this time of emergencies. The office mobilized and dispatched health and nutrition teams to bring essential services to all of the barangay health centers, supervised by the Rural Health Midwives together with the nurses and midwives under the HRH NDP and RHMPP program of Department of Health. They are all guided by an Office Memo dated March 24, 2020 from the Municipal Health Officer on the mobilization and utilization of micronutrient supplements from DOH.
The team distributed Vitamin A capsules to target children aged 6-59 months. If the target children 6-59 months old live with a senior citizen and a person with disability, they too were given Vitamin A capsule to help boost their immune system, an important step to prevent infection.
Ferrous Sulfate drops and syrup were administered to infants with low birth weight and malnourished preschool children, respectively. Expanded Program for Immunization (EPI) and prenatal checkups are being done by the health team in the Barangay Health Center, and even doing this house-to-house. The Nutrition Office continues also its Philippine Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (PIMAM) program implementation to 7 identified Severe Acute Malnourish cases in the municipality.
Complementary to the initiatives of the RHU and Nutrition Office, and to prepare communities to have access to the availability of fresh vegetables, the Municipal Agriculture Services distributed vegetable seeds to households and farmers alike from the Department of Agriculture, Regional Office V. All 44 barangays were given assorted seeds (pechay, okra, tomato, sitaw, kalabasa, patola) for backyard gardening.
While other offices of the LGU also have their unique roles in uplifting the lives of the people in this time of crisis, these RHU and Nutrition Offices initiatives are laudable for putting priority for the often-neglected sectors in emergency responses in our locality – the children, pregnant and elderly. To avail of their services, they are open Monday to Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 am with health workers under an on-call status.
With Guinobatan’s nutrition and health services on heightened status, Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco is hopeful that malnutrition among their children could be prevented, even in this time of emergencies. (taken from Report from Russel Reis, Guinobatan Nutrition Officer, and edited by DBB, ARR, NNC RO V)