DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A Philippine senator said the country should have more barangay nutrition scholars to address the problems of the health sector including malnutrition.
“Maituturing nga nating mga lifesavers and heroes kayong lahat in your own way ng mga 40,000 barangay in the Philippines (All of you are considered life savers and heroes in your own way to about 40,000 barangays in the Philippines),” Senator Cynthia Villar told the crowd of about 900 Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BSNs) from all over Mindanao during the biennial national conference held at the SMX Convention Center on Wednesday, August 9.
Villar said the increase in number of BNS in the country will greatly contribute to combat the issues and problems of the health sector such as malnutrition, micronutrient deficiency, stunting, wasting and others.
The BNS are community-based volunteers whose primary responsibility is to assess and monitor the nutritional status of children in a barangay for the officials to know what should be done to address it.
In her speech, Villar, who is also the chairperson of the Senate committee on food and agriculture, said the BSNs, as “prime movers”, who play a very important role in the implementation of the programs and projects that is centered on health and nutrition.
“Saludo ako sa ating mga BNS na talaga namang napakaimportante ang papel na gagampanan upang masiguro ang tamang nutisyon at kalusugan ng mga residente sa ating mga komunidad at sa ating mga barangay (I salute all of our barangay nutrition scholars who have a very important role to perform to ensure the right nutrition and health of the residents in our communities and in our barangays),” she said.
“We are thankful that the BNS are really devoted and dedicated in improving the nutritional status of families in barangays,” Villar added.
Evangeline Orais, who works as a BNS in barangay Visayan village, Tagum City for 20 years, told Davao Today that one of the most challenging parts of their work is the monitoring since some of the parents show unlikely attitude towards them.
“Ang challenging kanang pag mag monitor nami sa household sa malnourished kay dili maayo ang attitude (What is challenging is when we monitor the household of malnourished children because they show bad attitude towards us),” Orais said.
However, she assured that at such instances, what they do is really just to educate especially the parents about proper nutrition.
Orais added that they make sure that monthly monitoring and lectures are being done so that parents or guardians of the malnourished children are able to absorb and apply what they have taught them.
“Among nakita na sa among pag-reach out ug pag-educate naa gyu’y improvement (We have seen that by reaching out to them and by educating them, there really are improvements),” Orais said.
Orais said the prevalence rate of malnourished children in Tagum City reduced from 3.5 percent down to 1.6 percent.
“Barangay Nutrition Scholars have always been at the forefront in the community as far as nutrition is concerned particularly in monitoring the nutritional status of all children below five years old in order to identify the malnourished for immediate intervention,” Villar said.
LuzViMin BNS Federation, Inc. President, Joy Luma-ad said in a press conference that BNS now play a greater role especially with the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), the Philippines’ framework of action for nutrition improvement, which was recently launched in Iloilo City in May.
Luma-ad said that through the convention, the BNS will be able to learn more about their significant role in the implementation of the PPAN such as reaching out to indigenous peoples in Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) especially here in Mindanao, identifying and referring children with acute malnutrition, monitor their growth and recovery and others.(davaotoday.com)