Undernutrition is viewed as a serious problem with many contributing factors. Effects include damage to health, physical growth and brain development. Children are at risk not only because of lack of food but also because of poor feeding and care practices, lack of access to health services, poor health conditions of mothers and breastfeeding women and unsanitary conditions.
In barangay Molos, survey conducted during April 2016 showed that 11% are underweight while 16% are severely underweight. Furthermore, barangay Molos has been ranked as the 4th barangay with the highest number of malnutrition rate in the municipality. There are several causes of undernutrition which could include lack of knowledge on proper nutrition to children, poor care and feeding practices and poverty. Although 90% of the population has backyard gardens, mothers might not be making the best use of their resources. Thus, it is also important to equip the families with the knowledge and skills to be able to prepare an inexpensive yet nutritious meal for the family. Our goal in this issue is to reduce the number of underweight children from 27% to 13% by 2018.
In order to achieve our goal, first, we focused on providing health education to the residents in Barangay Molos. We focused on the concept of breastfeeding, the misconceptions, and the advantages of breastfeeding. Secondly, we invited the people to create a communal garden wherein they will be able to harvest vegetables for their daily meals. With this, we also invited guest speakers on gardening so that they may be able to get ideas to make a vegetable garden in their own homes for their families. We also weighed the children ages below 5 years old to be able to know their nutritional status. Many children are still considered underweight as shown in the results of the survey. Thus, we produced and distributed ready-to-use therapeutic food for the identified underweight children. Some of the children, however, were not fond of the RUTF. Some had diarrheal symptoms, while others just were not fond of peanuts, which was a primary ingredient of the RUTF. So despite the weight gain from the RUTF, still we realized still more should be done. And so we started the Pabasa sa Nutrisyon course, a 10 session course intended to promote proper nutrition. Mothers and even fathers were involved in the course so they would know how to prepare nutritious meals for the family. This was a way to reinforce to the parents or the people in general, that preparing proper nutritious meals at home is still the most essential component in preventing malnutrition. We may give RUTF but without making an effort to provide nutritious meals to their children, malnutrition will still be around. The course so far, was a success. the ones who participated were very active and were eager to be able to provide nutritious meals for their families.
There is still more to be done in our community. But the projects we have done so far have helped increase awareness among the residents and even give them the knowledge and skills to address this issue. Although we have frequently faced challenges in terms of gathering the people, but little by little we have gained their trust and is now taking a step towards reaching our goal.