TACLOBAN CITY – The National Nutrition Council (NNC) admitted that their campaign to reduce the malnutrition prevalence in the region may not be attain, citing low coverage and failure of typhoon-affected areas to submit accurate reports. NNC regional nutrition program coordinator Catalino Dotollo said that the reduction of malnutrition prevalence to 11.31% last year from 13.72% in 2012 is not accurate with only 66% coverage of Operation Timbang (OPT) in 2013.

The 66 % coverage is lower than the acceptable 85% coverage.  “Actually we cannot determine whether the malnutrition rate has gone down, precisely because in 2013, OPT coverage is low particularly in the Yolanda affected areas because they do not have records,” Dotollo said. “The reason is valid based on the result of our field evaluation because they cannot retrieve anymore the OPT data, but we want to see a more accurate picture of the local nutrition situation,” he added. About 455,116 pre-school children (zero to five years old) were weigh in 2013, representing only 66 percent of the region’s estimated 692,644 pre-school population. Of the number of children weighed, 51,485 were found suffering moderate to acute malnutrition.

In contrast, of the 741,662 estimated preschoolers in 2012, at least 530,626 were included in the OPT or a coverage of 71.55 percent. OPT is the annual weighing of all preschoolers or below six years old in a community to identify and locate the malnourished children. Dotollo, however, remain positive that there could be some reduction in malnutrition rate after supertyphoon Yolanda due to the intensified effort of the nutrition cluster partners in disseminating the activities particularly Infant and Young Child Feeding Program (IYCF).

All areas recorded below the 85% weighing coverage – Biliran (82.68%), Eastern Samar (80.15%), Leyte (48.17%), Northern Samar (80.49%), Samar (74.32%) and Southern Leyte (77.23%). In terms of malnutrition prevalence, Samar posted the highest prevalence with 19.34%; Northern Samar with 13.87%; Leyte,13.79%; Biliran,12.83%; Eastern Samar with 10.87% and Southern Leyte,9.63%. The 2012 weighing result placed the six provinces in the same rank. Samar had the highest malnutrition prevalence at 17.88% followed by Northern Samar (15.80%), Leyte (15.12%), Biliran (12.38%), Eastern Samar (10.82%), and Southern Leyte (7.82%). (SARWELL Q.MENIANO)