RO9 New NormalThe new normal of living during this COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many challenges that most people did not expect to face. It has changed many aspects of the everyday life such as altering the ways how to work, socialize, shop, exercise, study and even think. Staying healthy even before the pandemic hit has been already a struggle for many, but focusing on your personal health while trying to cope up in the new way of living will help you survive in this crisis.

A year ago, everything was normal. Hanging out with friends, shopping at the mall whenever you need, going to school and working without worry, planning travels, attending social gatherings and sleeping better with less anxiety are just few of the things that people enjoy doing in their lives before the COVID-19 pandemic.  While it may take some time to go back to these life’s routines, individuals now need to face the reality of the “new normal” which includes social distancing, wearing of masks when going out, communicating online, and practicing handwashing and sanitation. This sudden global shift  has impacted not only the everyday life that people used to live but also affected the overall health and well-being as feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, grief and isolation are widespread.

RO9 No Smoking MonthSmoking is one of the causes of preventable deaths and diseases in the country. Smoking cigarettes affects the respiratory system, the circulatory system, the reproductive system, the skin and the eyes, and it also increases the risk of many different cancers. According to the Department of Health, there is an estimated 713,000 deaths in the Philippines due to smoking. Pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 183, series of 1993, yearly, the month of June is celebrated as the National No Smoking Month to intensify the campaign against smoking by raising public awareness of its harmful effects.

RO9 DengueRight after summer and by the month of June, the wet or rainy season starts to take over. A good rainstorm nourishes the plants, replenishes water supply and gives you a good setting to curl up with your favorite book. However, just like anything else, too much rain could lead to negative effects for wildlife, the environment and even the economy, which also includes the peak of dengue infection. This is why every month of June is observed as the National Dengue Awareness Month by virtue of Proclamation No. 124 to highlight on the prevention and control of dengue in the country.

Dengue fever, also known as break bone fever is a mosquito-borne infection that can lead to a severe flu-like illness caused by certain species of mosquitoes such as the Aedes aegypti. This type of mosquito commonly increase in breeding during the rainy season and in unclean environments and usually bites between 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset. It is one of the fastest-spreading mosquito-borne diseases with 185,008 five-year average cases in the Philippines based on the 2012-2016 data of the Department of Health (DOH). According to health officials, the most common symptoms that can be seen in a person with dengue are high fever, weakness or intense fatigue, headache, body pain and red spots on the skin.

RO9 Mental WebinarThis pandemic can trigger the people to feel more anxious. Problems are piling up on top of another- temporarily loss of jobs, limited budget, lack of transportation going to and from work, and the list just goes on.

With more than 150 participants from all over the country, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Regional Office 9, headed by Nutrition Program Coordinator Nimfa D. Ekong, attended the Webinar on Mental Wellness at the Workplace Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic on 10 June 2020 via Google Meet.  The webinar was spearheaded by the management of National Nutrition Council for the staff to be able to gain more knowledge on mental health and the ways to cope up with stress. With this activity, all NNC staff felt the concern of the management towards its employees amid this pandemic.

RO9 ECCD Virtual MeetingDue to the COVID-19 pandemic, mass gatherings are prohibited and social distancing is being observed in the country. Thus, various agencies and organizations nowadays are taking advantage on the use of modern technology and internet to continue conducting their postponed activities. One of these is the successful conduct of the 1st Semester Early Childhood Care Development – First 1,000 Days (ECCD-F1K) program Virtual Meeting through Zoom application that was spearheaded by the National Nutrition Council Regional Office 9 on May 21, 2020. The meeting was attended by 11 participants who were the Provincial Nutrition Action Officer (PNAO), Municipal Nutrition Action Officers (MNAOs), District/Municipal Nutrition Program Coordinators (D/MNPCs), Municipal Nutrition Office Encoders of the Local Government Units of Aurora, Mahayag, Kumalarang and Zamboanga del Sur province and a DOH-HRH Nutritionist-Dietitian deployed in the Municipality of Kumalarang.

The meeting focused on discussing with the participants the updates and status of the ECCD-F1K program in their respective areas, the LGU’s health and nutrition good practices during the COVID-19 pandemic and to strengthen the implementation of Executive Order 51 or the Milk Code of the Philippines among other matters relevant to the ECCD F1K Program.

First presenter during the meeting was LGU-Aurora’s MNPC, Ms. Mecelyn P. Ruiles. MNPC Ruiles enumerated their LGU’s accomplishments such as the inclusion of vegetables in the distribution of relief goods, successful conduct of the Search for Ulirang Ina ng Aurora (SUFIA) launching and awarding ceremonies, procurement of vegetable seeds that are waiting for its delivery, and the LGU’s plan to conduct a garden contest for the program beneficiaries. This was followed by the MNAO of Mahayag, Ms. Charisse Norina Ma. A.  Ranile in which she detailed their LGU’s updates and accomplishments during the pandemic. This includes the distribution of seeds, dispersal of rice grains to the farmers, and the assistance of the Barangay Nutrition Scholars in the distribution of Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF) and Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), PUM monitoring, manning the checkpoints and provision of assistance to the conduct of EPI vaccination with the Rural Health Unit. MNAO Ranile also mentioned that their LGU’s launching on the Search for the Ulirang F1K na Ina was deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the Provincial Nutrition Action Officer of Zamboanga del Sur, Ms. Grace F. Sumogue also discussed the nutrition updates in the province. Accordingly, Zamboanga del Sur already had an approved plans and activities that are reprogrammed until December. She also cited that the LGU successfully conducted a TAME orientation before the implementation of ECQ. Another accomplishment of the province also was its initiative on translating the Nutrition Cluster Advisories in Cebuano dialect for better understanding of the BNSs and other readers.  Lastly and unfortunately, the LGU of Kumalarang participants were disconnected due to the unstable internet connection but PNC Elton N. Pelegrino presented on their behalf. PNC Pelegrino presented the remaining balance for ECCD-F1K fund of the LGU and the programs which were suspended because of COVID-19.

Before the meeting ended, NNC IX Nutrition Program Coordinator, Ms. Nimfa D. Ekong gave her comments and suggestions to the LGUs such as allocating enough time in searching and monitoring the participants of the Search for Ulirang F1K na Ina and recommended some alternatives to the programs and activities that were suspended due to COVID-19. She also reiterated the E.O 51 to the participants and reminded them to be vigilant and on the lookout for possible violations of the Milk Code in their community.

The NNC RO 9 commends the efforts of the ECCD-F1K areas even during this time of pandemic. As the ECCD-F1K program concludes this year, NNC 9 wishes the LGUs to continue to integrate the program in their nutrition action plan and implement its component activities using their own resources such as delivery of nutrition, health, early learning and other social services to the pregnant and lactating women, and children below 2 years old. 


NO I Angelica O. Pajulas

RO9 KidneyMonthDid you know how important your kidneys are? These two bean-shaped and fist-sized organs located at the bottom of your rib cage filter waste products, excess water and other impurities from your blood. Imagine what will happen to your body when these organs are not well taken cared of and those waste products are not filtered properly which may cause damage in your kidneys that may disrupt its functions.

By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 184, yearly the month of June is declared as National Kidney Month lead by the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) with this year’s theme “Malusog na Bato sa Panahon ng Pandemya” to highlight the importance of keeping a healthy kidney even during this time of COVID-19 pandemic.