News Release

Church and Cebu City Health Officials Team Up for Child Nutrition Program

The Cebu City Philippines Stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Welfare and Self-Reliance Services (WSRS), in coordination with the City Nutrition Council, held another Child Nutrition Program at the Kamputhaw Chapel on October 22, 2022. 

Luis Camara Manoel, Senior Manager of the Church Humanitarian Services, and Carolyn Gutierrez-Abanggan, WSRS Manager, oversaw the activity, which was one of a series of Child Nutrition Programs held across different stakes within the country.

Entitled "Sa Normal na Nutrisyon, Sama-samang Gawin nang Solusyon," the program aims to assist parents and children five years and below in awareness of the importance of child health and welfare within the Cebu City area. This particular program targeted Barangay Kamputhaw and other neighboring barangays.

President Marlon Deparine, 2nd Counselor of Cebu City Philippines Stake, presided over the event and said, "Our plan is to have the wards (congregations) do this, eventually. This event serves as a pilot activity." The initial activity, held in August, called "Operation Timbang," focused on measuring the height and weight of children five and below in preparation for administering Vitamin A and deworming.

"The Department of Health has the mandate to provide Vitamin A to children nationwide," according to City Nutrition Scholar Flora Laping. She added, "This will help avoid eye-related conditions such as night blindness. Therefore, we should take advantage of these government-provided medicines."

Virginia Quitoy, a Barangay Kamputhaw Health worker, also related, "Children contract worms when they play barefoot outdoors and should go through deworming every six months."

Child Health and The Pandemic

According to City Nutrition Scholar Cecil Tenebroso, the pandemic bore both positive and negative effects on the city's residents. "Two out of 10 children have been observed to have lost weight during the pandemic," she stated. In addition, families suffered from food insecurity due to supply chain issues. She highlighted, "Children also ate non-nutritious, sugary, and salty foods. This was not monitored because health services had been scarce and workers could not do their rounds."

"On the other hand," she emphasized, "Families did try to eat healthier, like more fruits and vegetables to prevent infection. Food gardens became popular, and Community pantries started to promote the basic human virtue of kindness." 

"Suffer the little children to come unto me"

Luis Camara Manoel spoke to the parents and children in attendance, "The kingdom of God belongs to children." He further quoted a verse in the book of Mark in the New Testament and spoke to the children, "Sometimes you need to eat the veggies that your mom feeds you. If there is one person that knows the love that Jesus has for you, it is your mother."

Kristine Alipose, a mother from Kamputhaw Ward, said she was grateful for this program. "We can only access this kind of healthcare if the Barangay rove around the neighborhood. So it is very nice to know that The Church does something like this for the children," she expressed.

A total of 17 children were recorded and given doses of vitamin A and deworming pills. Jocelyn Pugoy, Stake Nutrition Specialist, stated, "There will be more follow-up screenings after we conduct a survey to address the health needs and concerns of the children in the stake."

The Child Nutrition Program

The Child Nutrition Program (CNP) aims to determine the status of the Church's primary children aged 0 to 60 months and develop interventions to bring everyone to a healthy level. The program also aims to educate mothers and expectant mothers on various topics addressing proper nutrition for mothers and children. Through this initiative, local church leaders can collaborate with government agencies and non-government organizations to educate families on the effects of malnutrition and help them implement long-term solutions.

The Philippines is the first area to pilot the project. Since then, several stakes/districts have responded to this initiative and have launched their initial screening for their primary children and their mothers. 

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