Nutrition Month is an institutionalized campaign held every July to create greater awareness among Filipinos on the importance of nutrition as provided under Presidential Decree 491, or the Nutrition Act of the Philippines. The law also mandates the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to lead and coordinate the nationwide campaign.
The NNC spearheaded the 47th National Nutrition Month campaign with the theme, “Malnutrisyon patuloy na labanan, First 1000 days tutukan!” with three main objectives – EDUCATE, ENCOURAGE, and ENGAGE. The campaign aimed to EDUCATE by increasing public awareness of the first 1,000 days of life strategy and the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) as a framework for nutrition action; ENCOURAGE others through fostering collaboration among stakeholders for scaled-up efforts toward nutrition; and ENGAGE everybody to share responsibility and contribute to commitments for nutrition.
Despite the challenge of the pandemic, the NNC successfully launched this year’s Nutrition Month celebration on 1 July 2021, in coordination with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO). The virtual kick-off event highlighted messages of support from various partners in nutrition, namely, the Cabinet Secretary, Department of Health, Department of Education, Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Scaling Up Nutrition Philippines – Civil Society Alliance, UNICEF and World Health Organization. It was followed by a feature on PCOO’s Laging Handa PH public briefing program where NNC Executive Director Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang discussed the planned activities of NNC for the month-long campaign.
Various activities intended to EDUCATE were conducted by NNC, other government agencies and LGUs, NGOs, schools and universities, media, and the private sector across the country. The NNC in particular held on 8 July 2021 an episode of its Home Online Nutrition Exchange (HONE) with the topic, “Malnutrisyon: Whys and Hows”, which aimed to increase further knowledge and understanding on malnutrition, the first 1000 days strategy, and the PPAN. Resource persons came from the national government, local government, and healthcare sector.
The campaign was supplemented by a two-day Nutrition Month Conference on 15-16 July 2021 designed to disseminate the latest research on pressing nutrition issues such as stunting, overweight and obesity, and infant and young child nutrition. With over 1,500 registrants, primarily technical nutrition workers and nutrition advocates, the conference also featured good practices and discussions on nutrition governance with guest panelists from select local nutrition committees. Finally, on 30 July 2021, a Nutrition Month Webinar for nutrition professionals was organized by DOH, NNC, Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines (NDAP), DOH-League of Registered Nutritionist-Dietitians, Inc. (LRNDI), and Accredited Integrated Professional Organization (AIPO).
One of the activities to ENCOURAGE scaled-up interventions is by fostering collaboration between NNC and critical implementers. That is why on 30 July 2021, as the Nutrition Month closing activity, the NNC, in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and ULAP, held the “Dialogue with Local Chief Executives: Enabling Nutrition Devolution.” The event talked through essential points, especially the need for a functional nutrition office led by a full-time nutrition action officer (prioritizing registered nutritionist-dietitians), adequate personnel, and funding for local nutrition action plans in consideration of Executive Order 138 and the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling.
To ENGAGE and generate participation from our stakeholders, the NNC has conducted online contests over social media. The Facebook Photo Contest, with the topic “How do you celebrate Nutrition Month during the pandemic?”, has reached more than 1,000,000 Facebook users. It was open to all individuals, groups, families, friends, organizations, schools, workplaces, and local government units. The NNC, in partnership with TikTok Philippines, has also launched its official TikTok account (@nncofficialph), where Nutrition Month challenges were conducted to reach a wider group of audiences. Videos uploaded on the NNC TikTok account have reached more than 45,000 users.
The NNC has also convened and engaged the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Philippines member networks and other stakeholders to generate recommendations for the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UN FSS) through an Independent Dialogue on 12 July 2021. Consolidated inputs, particularly ten (10) critical recommendations aligned with the national food policy, were presented by NNC during the National Food Systems Dialogue led by the Department of Agriculture on 16 July 2021.
Likewise, NNC Regional Offices held various activities to educate, encourage, and engage, presented during the Nutrition Month Culminating Activity on 29 July 2021. Online contest winners were also announced during the event where winners bagged home the prize amounting to as much as Php50,000 for the grand prize while other winners received cash prizes ranging from Php10,000 to Php40,000.
The Nutrition Month campaign was also featured in different organizations, including ABCD – academe, business networks, civil society, and donors and development partners – who actively participated and conducted their respective Nutrition Month activities.
NNC calls for all national government agencies, local government units, the private sector, civil society, media, and academe to continuously support the campaign for good nutrition not only during Nutrition Month, but henceforward.