Wednesday, January 25, 2017

United for Healthier Kids Advocacy Launches Platform to Inspire Action Against Malnutrition in the Philippines

The world may have come a long way since the advent of time but we are still afflicted with social ills like hunger and malnutrition. Just like in the Philippines. Did you know that there is an  estimated seven million children who still suffers from hunger and malnutrition in our country? This bleak picture is out of sync with the much touted economic growth figures that the government is crowing about . This social ills stems from inadequate access to nutritious food, lack of nutrition education, and poor health and sanitation services.

Hunger and malnutrition has always been a challenge to our society and in a forum held at Green Sun in Makati City last January 18, the problem was given importance thru a forum. The forum which was hosted by the United for Healthier Kids (U4HK) advocacy led by Nestlé Philippines was graced by no other than Senator Grace Poe with Director Mario Capanzana of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, and Dr. Adela Jamorabo-Ruiz of the Nutritionist-Dieticians Association of the Philippines. Together, they shed light on the multiple facets of malnutrition the country is facing right now.


In her keynote speech, Senator Poe stated, “A generation of Filipino children are already hindered from reaching their full potential if they are hungry and deprived of the nutrition they need to learn in school and stay active. We must collectively work together to take care of our children and ensure that they are able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.” She also enumerated in her speech what her office is doing to resolve the problem and presented several bills being deliberated to help ease it. Toward the end of her speech, she likened the problem with the recent Extra Judicial Killing and said "Pwedeng Extra Judicial FEEDING na lang? Gutom ang patayin, wag patayin ang nagugutom." 


During the forum that followed, the panellis highlighted the need for sustained interventions in providing access to food and strengthening nutrition education among kids, their parents, teachers, and community leaders and pointed out the need for concerted multi-sectoral efforts to ensure that no Filipino child goes hungry and that they all get adequate amounts of nutrients.

After the forum the U4HK portal was unveiled. The U4HK portal will served as a repository site designed to inspire and move young Filipinos to share, donate or volunteer for programs of non-government organizations addressing malnutrition in different communities throughout the Philippines.

NestlĂ© Philippines Chairman and CEO Jacques Reber said that, “For the Philippines to combat malnutrition and achieve its full potential, we need to adopt a more systemic approach to reducing hunger and malnutrition. We need to bring together organizations with expertise in various subjects, from access to food, nutrition education, water, sanitation, and hygiene, to nutrition in disaster. We need to harness the energy and ideas of young people, who have demonstrated their will and capacity to shape the Philippines into a country whose people are able to lead prosperous and healthy lives.”

The U4HK portal will include a malnutrition heat map that shows the severity of the problem across the Philippines. Clicking on a particular region will feature the percentage of malnourished kids in the area, along with the activities that are being done to fight malnutrition. Housed on the volunteer page would also be a list of initiatives that the U4HK partners plan to implement over the next couple of months as well as details on how people can donate, volunteer, or share.

Launched in 2014, U4HK is a multi-sectorial advocacy focused on creating public awareness to drive action toward addressing malnutrition among elementary schoolkids.The advocacy tackles  the need to provide these children with adequate access to nutritious food, nutrition education, nutrition in distaster, safe drinking water and sanitation, and proper hygiene.

Nestle’s brand ambassadors such as Gerald Anderson, Kim Chiu, Gretchen Ho and other famous celebrities were on hand during the event to help spur the youth and the audinece present on the challenge of malnution. They also share some insights by immersing themselves by consuming meals that are most common with Filipino families suffering from hunger and malnutriton. Guests of the events including the management of Nestle Philippines and Sentaor Poe partake of the dishes like the boiled Saba, watery Lugaw and the Giniling na Mais.


The event was capped with a video message from Vice-President Leni Robredo, who shared her confidence on what the country can achieve if all sectors of society work together to address malnutrition.


To learn more about U4HK and its partners, visit www.u4hk.ph/hangryabouthunger

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