COVID 19 pandemic has brought many changes nowadays to everyone’s lives – to children and adults alike, all coping to shift to new normal. Meetings and other activities requiring social gatherings continue to be prohibited. The National Nutrition Council Regional Office V (NNC ROV) is among these agencies which are finding ways to continue to deliver nutrition programs and services amidst quarantine measures. A first-ever on-line meeting of Nutrition Action Officers at the provincial and municipal level in the Province of Catanduanes was held last 26 May 2020 to discuss the current status of the Early Childhood Care and Development in the First 1000 Days (ECCD F1K). Plan for the resumption of halted activities due to the imposition of enhanced then later general community quarantine (ECQ) was among the agenda of the meeting.
Gathering all NAOs of the province altogether in a meeting was difficult as each was busy attending to their LGU’s COVID-19 response. But this online meeting was an opportunity to see how each was doing amid this crisis, at the comfort of their own office or home. Unfortunately, only NAOs from Bagamanoc, Gigmoto, Pandan, Viga, and Virac together with those from the province and NNC RO V made it to the online meeting. Everyone seemed physically well as they appeared on video during the meeting, with much enthusiasm as shown during the training of trainers on Idol ko Si Nanay back in April and May last year. All of them said that several sessions of the Idol classes at the barangay levels had been done but had to be stopped because of the Luzon-wide lockdown. The bidding process for the food production component was likewise delayed. How to proceed with the program when restrictions have been relaxed, but still with limited movement is now a major concern of the group.
Strategies to continue with the learning sessions and participatory cooking demonstrations were floated by the NAO. The group thinks that house to house conduct of growth monitoring of children and face to face Idol Ko Si Nanay sessions limiting the group to about 10 participants to maintain physical distancing and wearing of face mask could be done. A radio program or other digital means for Idol Ko Si Nanay and other nutrition information, education and advocacy campaigns are likewise being considered. Given that there remain about 6 months to implement and utilize the funds downloaded to the municipalities, the challenge is doubled, considering the new normal everyone is facing now.
In this online meeting, willingness to share ideas and participate is the minimum for one to continue interaction between and among program partners. The biggest challenge remains the slow and intermittent internet connection especially in some locations in the province as encountered by the MNAO of Caramoran who was present only at the start of the meeting. The MNAO of Virac likewise experienced difficulty in accessing Webex but her persistence allowed her to join the meeting.
Anticipating that this might indeed be the new normal for the holding of MNAOs meeting, NPC Reario of NNC hopes for better internet connections in the whole of Catanduanes. Perhaps all the 11 MNAOs and more members of the Provincial Nutrition Committee of the province can join the next online meeting of nutrition champions of Catanduanes.
(DBB, ARR, NNC RO V.)