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NGOs in Bicol lend a helping hand to fight malnutrition and promote breastfeedingTabaco City. With the Enhanced Community Quarantine in effect since March 16, many daily wage earners have experienced many difficulties in meeting their daily food needs due to low or no daily income earned. With low income, there is a big possibility for the members of the family to reduce food intake, resulting to limited nutrients which greatly affect the health of everyone especially those who are most vulnerable – children, pregnant and lactating women, senior citizens and differently-abled group. Children must have enough nutrients in their body for proper growth and development. Pregnant and lactating women should be healthy for their infants to be healthy. Senior citizens have weak immune systems and are vulnerable to diseases.  While Provincial and Local Government Units and National Government Agencies continue to help those in need, various Non-Government Organizations also decided to lend a helping hand.

Two NGOs in Bicol Region extend their help to the undernourished children as well as the pregnant and lactating mothers. One of these is the Destiny Church Bicol which initiated Project “Istorya Ko, Tabang Ko”. The education of the children was compromised during this crisis, so they started an online story-reading challenge to help children learn. Various individuals uploaded videos of them reading children's stories which can be accessible on their Facebook Page and YouTube Channel. Moreover, Destiny Church Bicol also donated food packs to undernourished children in 4 barangays in Tabaco City with the help of Tabaco City Nutrition Committee. 138 undernourished children benefited from the food packs given that included fruits, eggs, chicken, macaroni pasta, mongo, cereal drink, bread, and biscuits. With this project, they help educate children at home and provide nutritious food too.

Image 2Across 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.

BHERT v BNCBoth Barangay Based-Institutions (BBIs), the Barangay Health and Emergency Response Team (BHERT) and the Barangay Nutrition Committee (BNC) have its own unique role in ensuring the well-being of the populace. The former looks at the general population and active when there is an ensuing health emergency while the latter is for children (pre-school and school children), pregnant and lactating mothers and other vulnerable groups in the barangay. These existed based on the emerging issue during the time these were created by virtue of a particular legal bases. The BHERT is to respond to a health emergency at hand while the BNC prepares the younger population so they are physically and mentally prepared for a health emergency that they will possibly face until they reach old age.

In 2003, during the multi-country Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, BHERT by virtue of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular (MC) 2003-95 was born out of dire necessity to prevent the spread of the illness. This time, again, BHERTs were activated throughout the country thru DILG MC 2020-023 dated 06 February 2020 as one of the government’s response to control COVID 19 pandemic to further spread this in the communities.

Image 1Tabaco City. Bicol Region has been on enhanced community quarantine since March 15 and has affected a lot of Bicolanos. The primary concern during this pandemic is the health of every individual which is now being addressed by respective provincial governments as well as other LGUs in the region. For an instance, the provincial government of Albay initiated the inclusion of  vegetables in the distribution of relief food packs. They purchased raw vegetables such as squash, camote, ampalaya, and winged beans from local farmers in the province and distributed these to different LGUs, which in turn, reached the more needy  families. The provincial government also delivered food packs and hygiene kits to Albayanos  stranded in Del Gallego, Camarines Sur during the first week of the ECQ. Rapu rapu and Jovellar also included fish among food distributed to their constituents.  LGUs in Sorsogon included vegetable seeds and tinapa (lawlaw) in their relief packs. In Casiguran, the LGU did not include canned goods in the relief pack, rather, they provided seafoods and bread every day to the community. In Gubat, rice and dried fish were sold at much lower prices.  Two LGUs in Camarines Sur also have distributed RUTF to identified SAM patients good for two weeks supply.  Calabanga, in addition to vegetables and other commodities,  also distributed rice-sesame mongo blend to all 6-12 months old children in the municipality. In Masbate City, malnourished children continued to have medical check-up  and supplemental feeding program. However, instead of children being gathered for the program, the food is being given straight to their homes.

Photo Courtesy by Municipal of Tiwi Facebook PageTabaco City.  COVID-19 pandemic has affected the health and livelihood of Filipinos. The Department of Health reminds everyone to wash their hands frequently and boost their immune system to prevent acquiring the virus. Promotion of good nutrition is most necessary during this health crisis. With this in mind, the city of Tabaco and municipality of Tiwi in the province of Albay initiated buying produce from their local farmers. The two LGUs announced earlier last week that agricultural produce only will be bought by the LGU and will distribute them to the families in the community. 

In Tabaco City, hundreds of kilos of produce were bought from the farmers and are being allocated to the different sectors of the community. According to City Nutrition Program Coordinator Efleda Boboyo, 108 kilos of pechay, 320 kilos of winged beans, and 41 kilos of tomatoes will be distributed to 2,400 pregnant and lactating women in the city.  As of today, the city government has provided food packs to 1,000 pregnant and lactating mothers with these fresh veggies.  

Healthy Relief Food Combo HeaderBy this time,  relief food packs already reached your pantry areas. In times like this,  we can only settle for what are locally available while our front liners are busy managing the sick while  government leaders  are deciding more serious matters. Not what food or dish to cook for the family.  We know these food packs are not enough.  That is why we are encouraging the people to take the challenge of creating a kitchen garden right at their doorstep by planting  vegetables that are easy to grow and will produce greens in a short time.  The other challenge is how to make the most of the contents of the food packs.  The following are simple tips and suggestions to make more “masustansya”  your usual relief food packs.

Sardinas ba kamo?

  • Gisahin with the usual sibuyas and bawang. Lagyan mo na rin ng kamatis para may lycopene na good for the heart.
  • Para maging mas makulay, you can put malunggay, or talbos ng kamote on the side. Mayaman yan sa iron at B vitamins for a healthy blood Puwede ding alugbati dyan sa tabi  o kaya naman kangkong na madahon, to add more variety.
  • Ginisang sardinas with sayote or green papaya , upo o patola, depende sa available na gulay sa likod bahay.
  • Sabawan para mas marami, good for the whole family.