The easiest, cheapest way to cure malnutrition
A village health worker herself, Michelle couldn’t believe that her youngest son, Alijandro, 4, was diagnosed with malnutrition.
“I got scared at first. As a health worker, I knew that malnutrition is an illness that has a long-term effect on children if not cured. I asked myself what happened. Because I feed him everyday. He never skipped meals. He doesn’t like vegetables though,” Susan lamented.
Fortunately, for Michelle, World Vision was looking for participants for its Pinoy Nutrition Hub (PNH). Hearing that it will provide a solution to malnutrition, she immediately enrolled her son.
PNH teaches parents or caregivers on how to rehabilitate malnourished children with a balanced meal without much cost.
“PNH is not the typical supplementary feeding,” corrected Venus Grecia, World Vision’s Health and Nutrition Specialist, about people’s misconception on PNH. “Feeding addresses hunger. PNH is a medicine that a malnourished child needs to be cured. A malnourished child is both hungry and lacks nutrients. PNH addresses both.”
Each PNH cycle can accommodate 10-12 children under 5 years old and last for 90 days of continuous healthy meal preparations. Twelve days are spent on-site or a place where mothers were taught to cook healthy meals, and the remaining of the days are continued at home.
Prior to PNH, a child’s nutritional status is checked, by measuring their weight and height. A child has to be de-wormed as well and undergo a medical check-up.
“PNH is not only teaching mothers how to prepare a balance meal but also about proper caring practices that contribute to the overall well-being of a child. We teach parents on proper hygiene, for instance,” Grecia added.
After the 12 daily PNH sessions, Alijandro achieved his normal weight. He gained around 1000 grams.
“At first, I had qualms about PNH because, for instance, fruits, the servings were too small. Then I learned that is not the quantity of food but the amount of nutrients in the food. I learned that a child has a very small stomach. They don’t need too much food, which my misconception before. A small amount will do as long as it contains the needed nutrients of a child,” Michelle explained.
In 2018, a report from the National Nutrition Council and UNICEF titled “Costing Study on Undernutrition” showed that around Php220 billion a year are lost due to cases of malnutrition.
Grecia explained, “Malnutrition could lead to sickness. The more sickly a population is, the more a local health center would need to spend on medicines and health facilities. The healthier the population, the more a local government can provide a bigger budget to, say, education or road improvement.”