2nd Year CROWN Maintenance Award
A Historical City making “Good Nutrition” part of its Heritage
Vigan City is the capital of the province of Ilocos Sur in the north of the Philippines. It is a historical city with preserved Spanish and Asian architecture. One of its famous streets, Calle Crisologo, is lined with cobblestones, occupied by travelling kalesas or horse-drawn carriages, rustic mansions, and local fare and products such as the empanada, longganisa or sausages, burnay or local earthen jars, and the abel cloth. The local government as well as the Bigueños preservation work has allowed its visitors to travel back in time making this city, established in the 16th century, live up to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. More than the excellent work in preserving the past, the city is also moving towards securing a better future with parallel investments and programs on another important asset, its people.
The city’s investment on its people is apparent with the implementation of various health and nutrition programs. It sustained and innovated its programs and focused on “building health and nutrition resilience among its Bigueño people.” The City Nutrition Committee, chaired by the City Mayor Juan Carlo Medina, leads in achieving this vision and strives to provide effective health and nutrition programs.
Good governance is a main factor for the exemplary health and nutrition outcomes in the city. Mayor Medina enrolled in the Department of Health (DOH) and the Zuellig Family Foundation Program on Municipal Leadership and Governance to help him establish and sustain a responsive health system. This led to many innovations in the management of the city’s health and nutrition programs. For instance, local officials conducted several dialogues and deep dive activities to understand the specific health and nutrition issues of the constituency. There were also conversations with pregnant teenagers, barangay local health program implementers, barangay health boards, fisher folks, and student leaders which led to the development of client-focused programs. The city also adopted people-centered planning inviting various stakeholders in strategic planning activities. The group of Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNSs), Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), Red Cross, MetroVigan Zumba Club, parent leaders, Person with Disability and Senior Citizen groups became the city’s partners in implementing and monitoring health and nutrition policies, programs and activities.
This inclusive planning led to the expansion and innovation in the delivery of health and nutrition programs for the people. For example, the city provided eggs for nutritionally-at-risk mothers in its 90-day dietary supplementation program called the “Itlog Para sa Nanay at Sanggol na Malusog” launched in 2019. The project was able to ensure that 96% of monitored mothers will deliver babies with normal birth weights. In the same year, a Mrs. Health Buntis pageant was held as an advocacy campaign for safe pregnancy, breastfeeding, and parenthood. These activities are nothing new as maternal health programs are prioritized in the city. It established and maintained breastfeeding rooms in the Vigan City Hall and Public Market. Moreover, breastfeeding in all government and commercial establishments is continuously advocated, supported by City Ordinance No. 17 or “An Ordinance on Promoting Breastfeeding in all Government and Commercial establishments in Vigan and Providing penalties for violation thereof” passed in 2016. These initiatives improved exclusive breastfeeding among infants from 76% in 2018 to 143% in 2019 (exceeded target for the age group). Simultaneous breastfeeding activities were also conducted annually since 2008. This is mandated by City Nutrition Committee Resolution No. 41 Series of 2008 “Promoting Advocacy to Breastfeeding to protect and Defend the Health of Infants and Children thus declaring August 7, Every year a Mass Breastfeeding Activity in the City of Vigan”.
Programs promoting child health were also sustained and strengthened. These include immunization, vitamin A supplementation, de-worming, and micronutrient and dietary supplementation. This is coupled with intensified information, education, and communications (IEC) campaigns as well as monitoring through Operation Timbang (OPT) Plus. The OPT coverage increased from 65.2% in 2017 to 72.5% in 2019. This has allowed the city to quickly attend to malnourished pre- and school- children that contributed to the decrease in the prevalence of stunting and wasting among the age-group. The prevalence of stunting and wasting among pre-school children decreased from 8% to 4% and 0.59% to 0.35% from 2017 to 2019, respectively. The 2019 prevalence for both indicators are lower than the prevalence in whole province of Ilocos Sur, which is at 5.33% and 1.37%, respectively. Wasting among school children also decreased from 6% in 2017 to 4% in 2019.
Adolescent health programs were also expanded. The Bigueño Adolescent Hub established in 2016 was upgraded into a Level III Adolescent Friendly Facility by the DOH in 2019. The hub serves as a safe haven for the city’s adolescents providing appropriate information and services. The recent accreditation means the presence of a functional referral system, complementary human resource, and budget. Similar hubs were also established in the 39 barangays. Moreover, several trainings on facilitation and information dissemination were also conducted among the adolescents. Topics covered were teenage pregnancy, bullying, HIV/AIDS, body changes and image, as well as Pinggang Pinoy, 10 Kumainments, and urban farming.
Promoting an active and lifestyle is also among the top priorities of the city. There are several initiatives implemented the past few years, which include the Overweight and Obesity Management and Prevention Program, and the Takbo Palayo sa Bisyo, a fun-run activity to promote vices cessation among men/father and foster stronger familial ties with their children. There were also Zumba dance sessions and obstacle courses organized to help alleviate adult obesity in the city. Aside from this, activities were also in place for the special populations such as the Wheel racing for Persons with Disabilities and Walk for Life for older persons.
Programs implemented will not be successful without the public’s support. The city disseminated news and information on programs through the Cuidad Vigan News Patrol, a daily news program aired over their local channel TV Vigan Channel 9 and on Facebook.
The sustained implementation of these initiatives proves Vigan’s commitment to build health and nutrition resilience among its people. The Local Chief Executive along with the other city officials, program implementers and the public, work together in creating appropriate and responsive programs. Sustaining gains in nutrition and health outcomes through implementation of such programs are also part of the city’s heritage, a heritage for the future Bigueños.
Ms. Maurene Ann D. Papa
Senior Economic Development Specialist
Social Development Staff - Health, Nutrition and Population Division
National Economic and Development Authority