Ermita has biggest number of malnourished kids in city

07/07/2010 - CEBU, Philippines - Barangay Ermita, this city has the most number of severely underweight or malnourished children according to the latest monitoring by the Cebu City Health Department this year.

Other barangays in the top 10 with most cases of malnutrition, in exact order, are Mambaling —particularly in sitio Alaska— Buot Taup, Inayawan, Duljo-Fatima, Sapangdaku, Pamutan, Agsungot, Pahina-San Nicolas and Punta Princesa.

The City Health department last January to March conducted the Operation Timbang on 130,383 preschoolers aged zero to 71 months, who comprise 15.7 percent of the city’s total 827,285 child population.

Of the 130,383 actually weighed, 821 were found severely malnourished.

The number is lower than last year’s 938 malnourished children but city health officials said that people must be careful in comparing because the city health used two different standards in determining the nutritional status of children.

In 2009 and the previous years, City Health used the International Reference Standard where they compared the weight and height measurements of children groups to determine if one is within the normal range of weight or height, or if one is above or below the normal range.

But this year, Child Growth Standard was applied where they used a cutoff for weight-for-height of below -3 standard deviations, all according to World Health Organizations standards, to identify infants and children having severely acute malnutrition. Using these new standard results to more children falling to the malnourished level.

Emma Gaviola, city health assistant nutrition coordinator said that malnutrition among children shows a decreasing trend for the last few years.

Just last year, the prevalence of malnutrition in the city is 5.60 percent. It went down to 4.32 percent this year.

Gaviola said that the decrease can be attributed to the various interventions of the city government such as feeding programs, supplementation of micronutrients such as Iron, Iodine and Vitamin A and education for parents.

Just recently, they have started supplementing Iron syrup to 3,000 severely anemic children apart from their regular Vitamin A supplementation.

Last year, the barangay with the highest prevalence of malnutrition was Sawang Calero which out of the top 10 this year.

Ermita was only in the third spot but Gaviola said that it is already expected because of the high rate of migration in Ermita and its young population. Most of the residents there are at the child-bearing age.

Other factors that causes malnutrition to children is poverty. Gaviola said that because of financial difficulty, children eat less. Lack education among parents also prevents children from getting the right kind of food with the right amount. (Sunstar)

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