Health office urges LGUs to include health, nutrition as priorities

ILOILO: Local government units (LGUs) in Iloilo are encouraged to include health and nutrition in their priorities to sustain the gains against malnutrition. 'To sustain, meaning they include our programs in their local nutrition plan, and to allocate a budget for it," Provincial Health Officer I Dr. Wendel Marcelo said in an interview Tuesday. Data from the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (PHO) showed a decline in malnutrition prevalence in the province, except in fourth-class municipalities, as a result of the 2023 Operation Timbang Plus (OPT). The program covered around 82.4 percent of the 148,902 targeted children ages zero to 59 months old from Iloilo's 42 municipalities and a component city. Results showed that the prevalence of underweight children dropped to 2.44 percent from 3.47 percent in 2020; wasting was down to 1.1 percent from 2.12 percent; stunting at 4.84 percent from 8.73 percent; and overweight children down to 2.26 percent from 3.30 percent. Of the total children covered, 3,627 were u nderweight and severely underweight; 1,727 were moderately and severely wasted; 7,205 were wasted; 7,204 were stunted and severely stunted; and 3,359 were overweight and obese. However, the PHO said some towns remain affected by malnutrition. The town of Badiangan has the highest incidence of underweight children at 9.61 percent, or 136, and a 20.21 percent prevalence rate for stunting, or 286 kids out of the 1,415 children who were covered by the program. San Miguel, meanwhile, has the highest incidence of wasted children at 4.21 percent, or 71 of the measured children. Meanwhile, Marcelo expressed optimism that the province's collaborative efforts with the National Nutrition Council (NNC) on the ongoing 2024 OPT will yield even more positive outcomes. He said the NNC has introduced the "Tutok Kainan" dietary supplementation program aimed at combating malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of life to support the early stages of child development. Earlier, Iloilo Provincial Health Office chief Dr. Mar ia Socorro Quiñon raised the urgency of addressing malnutrition, noting that the issue is intergenerational. 'We should address it right now, or else it will continue to the next generation,' she said during the kick off ceremony of the 50th Nutrition Month on Monday at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. Source: Philippines News Agency

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