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caramoranBased on 2020 OPT Plus report of Catanduanes, the National Nutrition Council Bicol reported that the municipality of Caramoran finally slid down in its ranking of municipalities with high prevalence of stunting among 0-59 months children. From being on top of the list in 2019 at 29.7%,  it now has the 5th lowest prevalence of stunting at 18.5%. Do you know that 5 years ago. in 2016, its stunting rate among 0-59 months children was a high 46.54%! 

How did Caramoran do it?  This marked improvement was fueled by serious intent of Caramoran to make children’s nutritional wellbeing a priority concern of the local government. Led by its Local Chief Executive and Chair of the Municipal Nutrition Committee of past administration, then by Mayor Agnes Popa to its present Municipal Mayor Glenda V. Aguilar,  its Municipal Nutrition Committee (MNC) persevered to make children’s nutrition concern a top priority. The municipality  allocated  more funds for its nutrition program and activities, and integrated and complemented activities with the other offices and sectors. One  of the activities conducted was nutrition and parenting sessions which were integrated in the activities of the  Health and Social Welfare Offices.   The assistance of the ever-reliable and dependable nutrition frontline workers – the Barangay Nutrition Scholars and Health Workers who continued to care for the children of the municipality- was a plus factor too for its sustained reduction of malnutrition.

Malnutrition was expected to spike as the municipality was not spared from the effects of the pandemic and onslaught of  Typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses.  However, the Nutrition team coordinated beforehand with their Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office such that funding for the purchase of nutrition commodities like micronutrient powder, multivitamins for both pregnant and children, among others, was prioritized. This coordination or complementation of program started when Nutrition Action Officer Vegim patiently worked on making the MNC functional and lobbied for offices and structures to have nutrition budget included in their Annual Investment Plan and Comprehensive Development Plan.    This practice is expected to  continue in the years to come to ensure that funding for nutrition is adequately provided.  

Measurement of children during Operation Timbang (OPT) Plus was likewise ensured to be correct and reliable. The MNC  team conducted  validation of data to  ensure that data of children are exact and that all children 0-59 months were covered in every barangay.

MNC functionality supported by the LCE and all its member sectors, civil society and non-governmental organizations is the key to the success of a nutrition program in any local government. Without these, nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive programs would remain as programs which are implemented and received for compliance only. If these are provided with perseverance, compassion, gratefulness, and  strong political will, ending this decades long problem of malnutrition is within reach.  Caramoran MNC promises to continue this quest until all children are healthy and well-nourished.

(DBB/MCV/ARR/NNC RO V)