Media support enlisted
in the fight vs. hunger and malnutrition
By NATION BUILDER
TACLOBAN CITY –
Combining the force of the media with the brarangay folks in the
fight against hunger and malnutrition was the goal of the joint
Anti-Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP) Media Forum and Barangay
Nutrition Scholars (BNS) Congress held at the Leyte Park Hotel
City October 21, 2010.
program of the government dubbed as AHMP was presented to a combined
audience of some 20 media practitioners in this city and more than
1,200 Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) from the 41 municipalities of
the Leyte Province.
Organizers put the
twin problems of hunger and malnutrition to scrutiny, stressing what
the government is doing to address them, and the role that the BNSs
play and what the media can do in fighting them.
Council (NNC) Region 8 chief Carina Santiago said, “With the combined
support of these two influential groups, more Filipinos especially at
the grassroots level will have increased knowledge on AHMP and good
nutrition, and will rally behind the fight.”
The BNSs are seen as
the champions of nutrition at the grassroots, doing the tedious task
of children’s weight monitoring, promoting and teaching mothers and
caregivers proper nutrition including exclusive breastfeeding, and
helping implement nutrition projects such as backyard vegetable
gardening and supplemental feeding. These tasks oftentimes interfere
with their own domestic responsibilities. Having very minimal
allowance, the BNSs are purely doing voluntary work, it was learned.
Discussions during the
joint Media Forum and BNS Congress primarily focused on the AHMP
framework wherein the problem is attacked both from the supply and
demand side. Banner projects of AHMP include Food-for-School Program,
Gulayan sa Masa at Paaralan, Barangay Bagsakan, Tindahan Natin – all
aimed at increasing food supply. Strategies to improve food delivery
from the production sites to the market are also being implemented by
constructing more farm-to-market roads, ports, irrigation and RORO
Also a priority action
of the government now is to put more money in poor people’s pockets
for them to be able to buy food. This is being realized through
microfinancing, and intensive job and livelihood generating projects
of different government agencies.
Discussions in the
afternoon session shifted to the importance of good nutrition and how
the BNSs can help promote it at the barangay level.
NNC Executive Director
Asst. Secretary Ma. Bernardita Flores delivered the keynote speech of
Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who was in
Luzon to attend to the outbreak of diseases in flood-stricken
areas. Also present during the affair were Director Leo Cañeda of the
Department of Agriculture, Director Edgardo Gonzaga of the Department
of Health, Leyte Vice Governor Mimiet Bagulaya, Directors Leticia
Corillo of the DSWD, Carina Santiago of the NNC and Romeo Quiza of
NIA, and NFA Manager Ben Marta.
Dir. Cañeda said
hunger is not only caused by lack of food due to poverty, but by lack
of food supply as well. He said even if there’s money to buy food if
there is not enough food in the market, people will still go hungry.
He also stressed the importance of promoting good nutrition since it
will teach people to buy the right food. Managing population growth
is also a must because large family size exacerbates the problem.
The BNS Congress has
become an annual tradition of the
as a venue for putting into limelight the unsung heroes of nutrition,
the BNSs. This year’s gathering sent them home packed with greater
understanding and appreciation of nutrition, and many of them also
bringing home raffle prizes donated by the members of the Regional
Anti-Hunger Task Force as well as from the private sector. This
initiative of the provincial government of
Leyte, with Governor Petilla on top and with the Provincial
Nutrition Action Officer, Melchora Cawile as focal person, is worth
replicating in other provinces.
According to the NNC
regional chief, Carina Santiago, after the day-long joint learning and
sharing activity, it is expected that the fight against hunger and
malnutrition in the province will continue to scale up to greater