Barangay scholars heroes behind DOH nutrition program

BAGUIO CITY— Barangay nutrition scholars (BNS) travel kilometers by foot to reach children in far-flung communities.

They never complain — despite the measly incentives they get. They are motivated by their desire to help solve the country’s malnutrition problem.

And they are considered heroes behind the success of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) ‎2017-2022 of the Department of Health (DOH).

In a recent visit here, DOH Assistant Secretary for Health and Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Maria Bernardita Flores acknowledged the important role that barangay nutrition scholars are doing for the country.

“Through the help of BNS, nutrition programs and advocacies can reach even those in the geographically isolated and displaced areas (GIDA), where malnutrition prevalence remains high,” Flores said.

“They serve from the heart simply because they want to help out. When faced with resource limitation in the implementation of

programs, they look for ways to the point of begging for sponsors who will help them in pursuing their task of providing the necessary health services for the barangay residents, no matter how distant they are from civilization,” she added.

The BNS program is a human resource development strategy of PPAN, which involves the training, deployment and supervision of volunteer workers.

It mandates the deployment of one BNS in every barangay, which the NNC administers with the local government units.

Eden Cordova, President of the Federation of BNS in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, said doing good and serving the community through the program is enough compensation for them.

Based on the latest record provided by the NNC in 2015, there are 4.6 million children in the entire country who fall under the category of “stunting” or those who are short in height compared to their age, about a million children are classified as “wasting” or thin for their height who faces a higher risk of death when getting sick.

Under the Duterte administration, the PPAN hopes to cut down, if not eliminate the high number of children who are short, thin, underweight or obese.

The NNC has refocused its attention from merely handling malnourished children, but starting the program from the pregnant women to make them deliver a baby with a birth weight of at least 2.5 kilograms and above. PNA-northboundasia.com