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Stronger Nutrition Program Services Amidst COVID 19 PandemicTabaco City. Year 2020 left a mark in history caused by the turn of events from the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) which placed the country’s healthcare system in severe distress. However, this pandemic did not hinder the implementation of various nutrition interventions in Tabaco City in the province of Albay. Rather, it paved the way to a more efficient operation of nutrition programs through the active involvement and mobility of the Tabaco City Nutrition Committee (CNC) together with its external partners who conducted numerous activities targeting different vulnerable groups and ages.

First notable program implemented was the Dietary Supplementation for three vulnerable groups: 6-23 months-old children; undernourished 24-59 months-old children; and nutritionally-at-risk pregnant and lactating women. This is likewise in support of the campaign for the Early Child Care Development First 1000 Days Program (ECCD-F1KD). Led by CNAO Dr. Audwin Azada, feeding was done along with nutrition counseling as a major component activity so that good nutrition practices continue to be done at home.

For 120 feeding days, 3,406 children aged 6-23 months received Rice-Mongo (RiMo) Instant Blend packets. This aimed to provide children additional calories and nutrients to prevent hunger, combat malnutrition, and boost their immune system.

Furthermore, 107 nutritionally-at-risk pregnant and lactating women were given fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to maternal milk and crackers for 90 days to ensure enough supply of micronutrients despite the lockdown. Pregnant and lactating women with 21 cm Mid-upper arm circumference was the determinant of the health workers in choosing the beneficiaries.

Also, a total of 597 undernourished 24-59 months old children received plain and flavored fresh cow’s milk from a local dairy farm, together with freshly baked nutri-bread, also for 120 feeding days. This combination is a calorie and nutrient-dense food which also aimed to provide additional energy and essential nutrients to restore children’s health and improve their nutritional status.

Other nutrition projects implemented by the CNC include sustained promotion of breastfeeding and consumption of fortified food products, conduct of Pabasa sa Nutrisyon classes in selected barangays, and the Buntis Congress. The latter was done among 10 selected mothers per barangay to teach them breastfeeding techniques and the importance of adequate nutrition during the First 1000 Days of life. Buntis and Baby starter kits containing nutrition information materials were also distributed among the participants. 

Fast forward to the initial result of the validation weighing activity done recently. Among the targeted  3,406 who are 6-23 months old children, a total of 156 were underweight.  Of these groups, 81 or 52%  showed nutritional improvement after having been fed the Rice-Mongo blend for 120 days. The 3,250 children maintained their normal nutritional status. Indeed, a change stemming from a synergistic effort of the CNC and Nutrition Cluster partners.

Financed and implemented by the City Government of Tabaco City led by CNC Chair  Mayor Cielo Krisel Lagman-Luistro, these programs were done to protect the vulnerable groups of the city amidst the emerging impacts of the pandemic. With health and nutrition governance among the thrusts of her administration, the City continues to show sustained reduction on its malnutrition situation. Tabaco City CNC, the model committee.

(MCV, KIBB, ARR, NNC RO V)