A group photo of the Ministry of Health and health partners during the launching of Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) on November 28, 2023. (Screenshot photo courtesy of MOH-BARMM program aired over social media)

COTABATO CITY (November 30, 2023) – Ministry of Health (MOH) headed by Minister Dr. Rizaldy L. Piang launched the Philippine Multisectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) in partnership with UNICEF, World Bank, MSSD and Local Government Units (LGUs) on Tuesday at Robinson Hall, Alnor Convention here in Cotabato City.

The project is to be implemented in forty (40) LGUs in the entire Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); 9 in Sulu, 14 in Lanao del Sur, and 17 were distributed to Maguindanao del Sur and Maguindanao del Norte.

Nutrition Division Chief, Celia S. Sagaral, RND of the Ministry of Health said that “in 2019, the UNICEF and World Bank study presented that ten (10%) percent of children under the age of five (5) or underweight signifying that one (1) out of ten children experiencing malnutrition. Thirty-nine (39%) percent under the age of five stunted or shorter than expected than a normal height indicating that four in every ten children suffered from chronic malnutrition.”

She added that “ninety-three (93%) percent or roughly nine in every ten children do not consume a varied and high-quality nutritious diet.”

According to the same study around 103,000 children under five years old are at risk of vitamin A deficiency and, approximately 46,000 children under five-year-old are experiencing anemia.

In the expanded national nutrition survey study for Adolescents girls roughly twenty-one thousand girls aged 9-10 years old are underweight. Approximately 136 girls aged 10-19 years old stunted or short of height and around 37,000 adolescents’ girls and 10-19 years old were affected by Anemia.

In the expanded national nutrition survey focusing on pregnant and lactating mothers, two out of every ten pregnant women are nutritionally at risk, one out of every10 lactating mothers are chronically malnourished. Three out of ten women are obese, and less than half of the mothers were counselled on and practiced breastfeeding.

She added that there was a “widespread food insecurity and it is evident with an average eighty percent (80%) across the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del sur, and Maguindanao.”

The World food program study further reveals that fifty-eight (58) percent households in BARMM cannot afford to purchase nutritious foods.

To address these prevailing deprivations on food security, the Philippine Multi Sectoral Nutrition Program will concentrate on enhancing various technical packages in BARMM.

“This will involve specifically strengthening capacities in primary care services governance in institutional monitoring and evaluation. Also, primary care service packages that include the management of acute malnutrition, Nutrition in emergencies, maternal newborn infant and young child feedings program and social behavioral change communications. The governance package includes organization, reactivation of nutrition committees, nutrition programs management, local nutrition action planning and accreditation of Barangay nutrition scholars,” Nutrition Division Chief said.

It also includes a monitoring and evaluation package, operation timbang plus and data quality assurance, and other forms of evaluation process.

Saadawi Mamaluba of the MOH also shared Islamic point of view on health care during the program, “Islam as a way of complete life, believers must take care of their spiritual, emotional and physical health. We should not abuse or neglect our diet and nutrition incorporating exercise because it plays a big part in maintaining the best possible good health to fulfill our obligations to Allah s.w.t.,” he said. (Saima H. Angcog, BMN/BangsamoroToday)

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