January 31, 2023

Some interventions are crucial in sustaining the gains in the reduction of stunting, which is one of the nutrition concerns in the country.

United Nations Children’s Fund Nutrition International Senior Consultant Cecilio Adorna, Sr., who was the keynote speaker in the recent Department of Health-Regional Nutrition award ceremony, commended the efforts of the various stakeholders and brought to fore interventions crucial in sustaining the gains of reducing stunting. 

He underscored some critical and necessary interventions, which mostly involve the DOH leadership and have bearing on the health personnel’s conduct on the ground.

One is to ensure that pregnant women avail of the appropriate services and the needed commodities especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.

He cited the case of Quezon and Malabon City where a barangay volunteer is only focused on the concerns of pregnant women.

Monitoring of the actual consumption of iron folic acid (IFA), not only its distribution, is important in the pursuit of the reduction of stunting, Adorna said.

The dietary supplement program (DSP) for pregnant women, which is simply called snacks that contain calories, protein, and micronutrients, should also be looked into.

These are found in food such as ginataan, banana, yam, sweet potatoes, and the like. A follow-through for the baby six months to 23 months of DSP is as important, he added.

The compendium of action for nutrition is also one intervention which is within the power and authority of LGUs in finding adequate resources for the nutrition program. These are in the form of ordinances and issuances which serve as legal references in support to nutrition programs.

Raising the prevalence of breastfeeding is another factor that helps prevent stunting.

Adorna said the involvement of the husband, like what Quezon is doing by involving the family in the first 1,000 days, is critical in the child’s growth.

An important ingredient in seeing the progress of the nutrition programs is the regular quarterly monitoring and accounting of personnel involved from the barangay to the municipal level, according to Adorna.

The critical interventions for maternal and child health and nutrition in addressing stunting must have 90 percent coverage to make it sustainable, he added.

But interventions are not sustainable if the family continues to be under the poverty list, he said.  Thus, local planning officers including the agriculture, labor, and other departments of the LGUs must look into ways in helping families avail of livelihood opportunities with nutrition concerns factored in.  – Susan C. Aro