LAGAWE, Ifugao – Ifugaos, known as a hardy people who carved the majestic rice terraces in the mountains, also carved anew a masterpiece, on the quality of life and in the nutrition landscape.
Simultaneous with the preservation and protection of the 2,00-year old rice terraces, the people known as Ípugos were able to sustain the implementation of their nutrition programs that resulted to their meriting the province the highest award, the Nutrition Honor Award.
Gov. Dennis Habawel, chairperson of the provincial nutrition council, said malnutrition is not only about the inability to buy food, but also the lack of knowledge on the right food to eat.
He claimed that the elements of success of the Ifugao provincial nutrition council in sustaining their nutrition program can be summarized in “Ipugo,’the original name of Ifugao, which focuses on the involvement of the community, such as the nutri-challan (nutri-walk), promotion of healthy lifestyle to prevent emerging lifestyle-related diseases, the deployment of additional volunteer workers to monitor the nutritional status of children, the regular segments of the municipal nutrition committees and the barangay nutrition scholars (BNS) hour in the Nutri-Eskwela community radio stations Radyo Kiphodan, and the incentive systems to ensure that nutrition activities are sustained, such as the Search for the Most Healthy School among public schools and the Search for Most Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Committee and the Zero-Malnutrition Reward System.
The governor added that the partnership and networking with a state university, business corporations, private foundations and even migrants and overseas Filipino workers (OWFs) were also keys in sustaining the implementation of nutrition projects, such as ‘Tudok Ahin’ and Operation ‘Pichip’(Pinch of Salt), in the eleven elementary schools, and school supplementary feeding.
Another important factor in the realization of good nutrition programs was the use of some innovative strategies that were implemented in the province and municipalities, including the establishment of One Town, One Product to promote unique Ifugao products as well as provide livelihood; bottle-bricking, a method of recycling pet bottles by filling them with shredded foil packages and made into bricks; management by embarrassment for community members who refuse to participate or cooperate with local activities, such as garbage disposal, installation of toilets among others; household empowerment through moral development, parenting, family advancement, healthy lifestyle, and awareness of the environment; a convergence program conceptualized and implemented by different municipal departments to empower couples to produce quality families; and inter-barangay visits for barangay nutrition scholars and barangay health workers to allow exchange of good practices among barangays.
According to him, good governance also fairly contributed in the success of the province since all activities, particularly those that involve collection of money, were reported by documenting collections and recognition ceremonies to acknowledge contributors such as the Barya Para sa Malnutrisyon.
Organization of resource-generation activities that involved a number of income-generating activities to support the nutrition program proved key to the success, such as the Adopt a Malnou4rished Child and Barya Para sa Malnutisyon, Piso Mo, Piso Ko Salun-at Tayo, HGU-household counterparting arrangement for PhilHealth coverage with conditions, comprehensive livelihood, enterprise and marketing development program, provision of zero interest financial assistance to families that incorporates values orientation with financial management, nutri-challan and serenade for a cause, and the BNS mortuary aid.
Habawel explained all these activities were implemented by the members of the local nutrition committees, 195 barangay nutrition scholars, 800 barangay health workers and 185 community health teams and that the result was the continuous improvement in the nutrition situation of pre-schoolchildren from 3.63 percent in 2011 to 2.91 percent in 2013 and schoolchildren from 2.69 percent in 2011 to 1.9 percent in 2013.
Habawel explained for a province that is geographically and financially challenged, the Ifugaos have proven that challenges can be overcome and can even be literally rewarding considering the successful implementation of the various programs and projects of the provincial nutrition council.