Mingo Nutrition Program benefits 88 children

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The provincial government of Iloilo is taking a serious stand against malnutrition after 88 undernourished or stunted children in San Miguel town were enrolled in the Mingo Nutrition Program of the Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, Inc. (NVC).

The Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) launched the Mingo Nutrition Program on Monday, May 20, with MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) sponsoring the beneficiaries’ one-year nutrition program.

“Hopefully, within one year, we will be able to address wasting and even stunting in our beneficiaries. This is an integrated health and nutrition program because, as we have been saying, we cannot address malnutrition with just health alone,” said Dr. Wendel Tupas Marcelo of the IPHO.

MORE Power donated P704,000 for the year-long nutrition program, in which each of the beneficiaries will receive P8,000 worth of Mingo meals, NVC’s instant complementary food made of rice, mongo (mung beans), and malunggay (moringa), medicines, and other supplementary food items.

“This is supplementary. This should be on top of the regular meals in a day. We emphasize that this should not replace their breakfast, lunch, and dinner to rehabilitate the nutrition of our beneficiaries,” Marcelo added.

To ensure the sustainability of the program, Marcelo said beneficiaries will be gathered for a quarterly assembly where different services will be provided, such as medical and dental check-ups, and to monitor their growth.

As part of the program, NVC will also give P100 to barangay nutrition scholars and volunteers for each child they are taking care of who shows improved nutrition status by the fourth quarter of the year.

The IPHO said giving incentives will prompt the scholars to constantly monitor the progress or improvement in the nutrition status of the children.

The IPHO has so far launched the Mingo Nutrition Program in eight towns of the province, including Badiangan, Carles, Lemery, Concepcion, Calinog, Pavia, Leon, and most recently in San Miguel.

According to the IPHO, San Miguel is the fifth town in the province with the highest incidence of stunting.

Marcelo further reported that since its launch in several towns, they monitored several improvements in the beneficiaries but noted that these had slowly declined due to food insecurity exacerbated by the ongoing El Niño phenomenon and the dry season.

Former Ilonggo Senate President Franklin Drilon, who led the launch of the nutrition program, said the national government’s budget for addressing malnutrition is “not enough,” especially the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s allocation for the feeding program.

“Malnutrition is a very serious problem […] Every day, 95 Filipino children die of malnutrition in the Philippines. We have to address malnutrition before it’s too late. If stunting is not addressed at an early stage, stunting after two years of age can be permanent and irreversible,” he stressed.

With minimal funding from the national government, Drilon pointed out that local government units have to find ways to address the issue by partnering with the private sector and non-governmental organizations.