MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines still has a long way to go in solving the problem of underweight children, President Benigno Aquino said Friday.
Aquino issued the statement in his keynote address during the 2012 National Nutrition Awarding Ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center.
He said that from 26.5% in 1992, the rate of underweight children went down to 20.2% in 2011. But these figures are still way below the government's target of 13%, which the administration hopes to achieve before the end of 2015.
The President also took note of the Department of Health's focus on the first days of a newborn child.
The program, Aquino said, will include counselling activities for pregnant women, breastfeeding awareness and education, and setting up more breastfeeding stations.
"Kung maaari, doblehin ang kayod," Aquino told members of the National Nutrition Council.
The president also addressed the winners in nutrition, particularly 19 local government units and barangay nutrition scholars for their exemplary performance in improving the situation in their respective communities.
The awards given out include the Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition Award, CROWN Maintenance Award and the Nutrition Honor Award.
This year's National Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS) was also chosen among the 8 Regional Outstanding BNS contenders.
The cities of Vigan, Tarlac, Toledo, Zamboanga; Municipality of Polanco, Zamboanga del Norte; and the province of Quirino brought home the CROWN Award for their excellent performance in managing their nutrition program for 3 consecutive years.
First-year CROWN Maintenance Awards were given to the provinces of Ifugao and Zamboanga Sibugay; municipalities of Lal-lo in Cagayan, and Opol in Misamis Oriental; and the cities of Maasin and Kidapawan.
Second-year CROWN Maintenance Awards were given to the provinces of Bulacan and South Cotabato; the city of Ozamiz and the municipality of Tubigon in Bohol.
The Nutrition Honor Award is the highest award given to the LGUs for their outstanding performance in managing their nutrition programs for 6 consecutive years.
This was won by the province of Batanes, Santiago City in Isabela, and the municipality of Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay.
These areas were able to drastically reduce malnutrition levels to less than 5%, in contribution to the targets of reducing the prevalence of underweight children by half by 2015.
This year's National Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar is Lina Guerrero of Brgy. Concepcion Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay.
She initiated various nutrition programs in her barangay that addressed malnutrition, as well as helped solve problems of poor hygiene, and environmental sanitation, and poverty.
Guerrero bested some 38,000 barangay nutrition scholars from all over the country.
She initiated the Katas ng Asin bridge project, established a 3-door communal toilet in the coastal puroks of the barangay that are often under water, initiated a "basura mo, premyo mo" project to encourage everyone to clean their surroundings; put up color-coded trash bins, and established breastfeeding stations in the village.