TACLOBAN CITY – Nutrition stakeholders launched on July 1 the Nutrition Month 2014 urging everyone to become “nutritionally prepared” for disasters. National Nutrition Council (NNC) regional nutrition program coordinator Catalino Dotollo encouraged local government units and non-government organizations to initiate activities that would raise the capability of communities to prepare for calamities through best nutrition practices.

“Nutrition Month 2014 aims to promote interventions to address nutritional needs in emergencies and disasters including preparedness, response and recovery. This could be achieved through the creation of local nutrition clusters,” Dotollo said during the opening of Nutrition Month celebration at the Balyuan open grounds.
This 40th Nutrition Month, anchored on the theme: “Kalamidad Paghandaan: Gutom at Malnutrisyon Agapan!,” aims to mobilize responders, particularly the local nutrition clusters and stakeholders to address gaps in nutrition in emergencies response from national to barangay levels.

The celebration seeks to increase awareness among families and individuals on coping and resiliency strategies to prevent malnutrition and worsening of nutritional status in times of emergencies and disasters.

This year’s theme stresses the importance of increased awareness and higher level of preparedness which can be achieved through the prevention of hunger and worsening of malnutrition during calamities.

During the opening, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla renewed the provincial government’s commitment to reduce malnutrition. “From 11 towns included in the top nutritionally-depressed areas in the country in 2012, the number was reduced to four municipalities last year. This is an indication that everyone is working on the preventive side,” Petilla said.

However, these gains will only be sustained if local nutrition committees are more prepared to respond to nutritional needs during crisis. Briony Stevens, nutrition coordinator of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) emphasized the need for families to store three days of food supply before a disaster, to satisfy food requirement of families while waiting for emergency food assistance.

“This celebration is a reminder to prepare of what we should do before a disaster. Nutrition is not just about food. This is also about health, sanitation, and hygiene,” Stevens said.

Malou Tabao, nutrition action officer of Tacloban City government, lauded various international humanitarian organizations for their support to arrest malnutrition in the aftermath of Yolanda.

“Their presence has raised the capability of the local nutrition workers on how to nutritional needs during emergencies,” Tabao added. (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)