CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, May 10 (PIA) -- Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger Head Karlo Nograles highlighted the crucial role of barangay nutrition scholars (BNS), nutrition action officers (NAO), and other frontliners in the nutrition community in battling hunger and malnutrition amid the pandemic.
In his keynote message during the "Webinar on Hunger and Malnutrition... Addressing the WHY" led by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Central Luzon, Nograles lauded their efforts as he encouraged them to sustain and increase their investment in nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs.
"Good nutrition is very important especially now that we are experiencing this [COVID-19] pandemic. That is why I call on your continuous dedication in ensuring that our kababayans are healthy so that we will have healthy and productive citizens against COVID-19," he said.
This, as he called on them to continue implementing programs that will help the nation bounce back for the new normal-a healthier one where the public are more nutrition conscious.
In turn, Nograles said that the task force to End Hunger is working on a law to institutionalize the BNS and NAOs so they may be accorded with additional benefits and security of tenure.
"This pandemic has made it very clear for all of us how important your role is. It has made it clearer that nutrition is one of the sustainable ways that we can fight any pandemic and virus, including this COVID-19 virus," he said.
Aside from this, he said that the government is all out in its aim to fight hunger and malnutrition through different initiatives including the Tutok Kainan program for the nutritionally at-risk pregnant women.
"We thank the NNC for implementing the National Dietary Supplementation Program for nutritionally at-risk pregnant women. This program operationalizes the First 1,000 Days of Life Law. Through the Tutok Kainan Supplementation Program, we ensure that our pregnant mothers are not only well-fed but are also equipped and sustained with the proper nutrients they need for themselves and for the children in their womb," Nograles said.
The task force Zero Hunger, he added, is also working in bringing to the forefront the discussions on the mandatory food fortification program in accordance with the mandates of the Philippine Food Fortification Act of 2000.
"This law requires the fortification of wheat flour with Vitamin A and iron; cooking oil with Vitamin A; and rice with iron," he said.
Nograles added that the task force crafted the National Food Policy to promote the consumption and utilization of safe and nutritious food that will meet the dietary requirements of nutritionally-vulnerable groups including children under five years old.
"Some of the programs we have identified include infant and young child feeding, integrated management of acute malnutrition, national dietary supplementation program, micronutrient supplementation program, and the mandatory food fortification," the official said.
He also stressed the partnership of the task force with private sectors, civil society organizations, and non-government organizations to address hunger and hunger-related issues.
"It is apparent that our problem with hunger and malnutrition is a daunting one. It is multi- faceted and multi-dimensional. Thus, we need unique and different approaches and strategies to battle it. With this, we need not only a whole-of-government approach, but a whole-of-society approach," he pointed out.
He also shared that since the task force was created, it was also to link 240 agrarian reform beneficiary organizations under the Department of Agrarian Reform to institutional buyers.
"In its first year of implementation, they have recorded gross sales amounting to PhP PhP148,863,0000. We also give our farmers credit assistance for their food production, processing and marketing activities. This is to ensure to ensure food and nutrition security, and mitigate hunger and malnutrition in urban and rural communities," he said.
All these initiatives, he said, requires the support and efforts of nutrition frontliners at the grassroots level to ensure efficient implementation as he urged them to strengthen their advocacies at the ground. (CLJD/MJSC-PIA 3)