Financing the Local Nutrition Action Plan (LNAP) is essential to a successful implementation of nutrition programs. While there are various possible sources of funds for the nutrition programs and projects, access to these funds remains to be a challenge to many local nutrition program implementers.
In response to the need for clear guidance on budgetary allocations for the local implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), the National Nutrition Council at the National Capital Region (NNC-NCR) gathered more than 100 delegates in a Forum on Financing the Local Nutrition Action Plan (LNAP) on February 21, 2017 at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.
Delegates were composed of the members of the Local Nutrition Committee from the 17 Local Government Units (LGUs) in Metro Manila such as Department of the Interior and Local Government Municipal/City Directors, Nutrition Action Officers, Focal Nutritionist – Dietitians, Budget and Planning Officers. Members of the Regional Nutrition Committee and Regional Management Group were also present during the event.
NNC – NCR’s Nutrition Program Coordinator Milagros Elisa Federizodescribed the PPAN as the country’s blueprint in addressing hunger and malnutrition. The PPAN 2017-2022 is designed to reduce the worsening problem of malnutrition particularly wasting, stunting and micronutrient deficiencies and overweight and obesity in the Philippines. Federizo further explained that funding and implementation of nutrition specific and sensitive programs at the local levels contribute significantly to the overall success of the PPAN.
Department of Health – National Capital Regional Office Assistant Regional Director Dr. Corazon Flores in her message, asked the participants to work hand in hand in ensuring that nutrition plans are properly funded. “Without funds, LGUs cannot implement good nutrition programs”, she added.
Complementation and convergence of efforts and resources among the LGUs, NGAs, NGOs and other stakeholders is indicated in the DILG Memorandum Circular 2012-89.
Mandaluyong City DILG Director Engineer Perla Upano explained that while the support and leadership of the Local Chief Executive who is also the Chair of the Local Nutrition Committee is the key to successful nutrition programs, the Local Nutrition Action Officers and members of the LNC play an important role in ensuring that evidence-based and responsive nutrition plans are integrated into local development plans.
Successful experiences and practices were shared by a City Nutrition Program Coordinator, Barangay Captain and former Mayor. Their experiences on financing their LNAPs have been proven to be effective that led to the successful implementation of their nutrition programs.
Pasig City, for instance, has an increasing budget for nutrition programs. The budget came from different sources of various stakeholders. One of the actors behind the successful funding for LNAP of the city is the nutrition secretariat headed by the City Nutrition Program Coordinator Marissa Almario.
Almario believed that Nutritionist – Dietitians are the drivers of nutrition programs. She uses various advocacy styles to gain support from her LCE.
“Different LCE, different strategy. There will be challenges along the way but what is important is the love and concern for the people. If we love our work and if we love our people, we will give our best for the improvement of nutritional status of our people”, Almario said.
On the other hand, “Making the Barangay Nutrition Committee (BNC) functional should be one of the priorities of the Chair of the BNC”, Barangay Captain Danilo Padrinao shared.
As the Chair of Barangay Dalandanan Nutrition Committee in Valenzuela City, Padrinao worked with the members of the BNC, CNC and collaborated with various NGOs in the implementation of nutrition programs. Assessment and planning including funding were discussed during their regular meetings. Monitoring the progress of their implementation is important in the next planning cycle, he added.
Former Mandaluyong City Mayor and CNC Chair Benjamin “Benhur” C. Abalos, Jr. was instrumental to the City being recognized nationwide as one of the few LGUs that effectively and efficiently implemented their local nutrition programs through the years. He focused on the needs of his constituents that included primary health care. “Make Nutrition a Priority”, Abalos reiterated.
Among the many problems of the city, nutrition was his priority. He appointed his wife, Carmelita Abalos (now the City Mayor) as the Nutrition Action Officer to lead the nutrition team who initiated nutrition projects and innovative strategies. With the guidance from national agencies including NNC – NCR, they were able to improve the nutritional status of Mandaleńos. Abalos enjoined all the LGUs to help each other as he mentioned “Ang mga bata ay hindi makakapaghintay, gawin na natin ang magagawa natin habang maililigtas pa sila sa malnutrisyon. Magtulungan tayo”.
Accessing the various possible sources of funds for nutrition programs may be challenging to local nutrition implementers. However, there are strategies that have been proven effective based on the experiences shared by the speakers during the forum. Funding is essential to the success of nutrition programs. But the success can only be determined by the improvement of the nutritional status of the people. (ELF/NPC MEVF/NNC-NCR)