Aldrin Alvarez, one of the “severely wasted” children from Brgy. Villa Ibaba, in one of the feeding sessions of Kaisa sa Nutrisyon (KAIN) program last October 2017.
Three-year old Aldrin Alvarez was underweight when he was born. He was identified as malnourished by the Atimonan Rural Health Unit (RHU) along with 75 other children in Barangay Villa Ibaba during one of the regular examinations conducted in the barangay.
After being diagnosed by a barangay health worker (BHW) as “severely wasted”, Aldrin was enrolled under a feeding program that aims to improve his health condition.
“Severely wasted” is a term used to describe children 5 years and below who are extremely thin for their height, according to the Department of Health. Lack of nutrition is the main cause of wasting and, if not treated properly, could lead to death.
Dana Evelyn Alvarez, one of Atimonan’s BHWs, said “Villa Ibaba is consistently ranking among the top barangays in Atimonan with high rates of malnutrition.”
Atimonan One Energy, Inc. (A1E), one of the companies present in the municipality, crafts its social development programs to ensure that they help address Atimonan’s societal concerns, like malnutrition.
Through A1E’s Kaisa sa Nutrisyon (KAIN) program, the company conducts a 150-day feeding program meant to address malnutrition of children ages 0 to 15 years old.
Malnourished and wasted children are given food and vitamins on a regular basis. At the end of each month, the children are weighed to assess their physical improvement.
A1E has so far conducted four rounds of KAIN, benefitting the 75 malnourished children identified by the RHU since the program started in 2014. Aldrin was part of the 18 children who underwent the most recent round, which ran from September 2018 to April 2019.
He now weighs around 9 kilograms, which is considered normal for his age and height. He joined the graduation ceremony held at the barangay hall last May 27, which officially marks the elimination of the cases of malnourishment in the barangay.
Aldrin’s mother, Rosalina Trapalgar, was thankful to A1E and the Atimonan RHU for this program that helped her kids. Besides Aldrin, her two other kids — Angelo, 7 years old; and John Rod, 6 years old — were also enrolled in the program. All three kids were declared healthy in the recent weigh-in.
The family has been trying to make ends meet, said Mrs. Trapalgar, whose husband – a fisherman – earns just enough for their food, utilities, clothing, and the kids’ education. The family has nothing to spare for more nutritious food and vitamins for the children.
“A1E has helped us in providing proper nutrition and food for our kids, one that we cannot afford as of the moment,” said Rosalina. “The BHWs also taught us how to prepare more nutritious food with a limited budget.”
As part of the KAIN program, A1E also partnered with the BHWs in educating the parents on proper nutrition; and the teachers and school administrators from Villa Ibaba Elementary School in monitoring the academic performance of the students enrolled under the program.
“The goal of KAIN is to address malnutrition and improve the overall academic performance of the kids,” said Cynthia Pardo, A1E External Affairs Manager.
Villa Ibaba barangay officials were also grateful to A1E for helping the barangay in its fight to end malnutrition.
“We are grateful for KAIN as this has helped us monitor and eventually eradicate the number of malnourished children in our barangay,” said Barangay Chairman Rogelio Balinsayo.
Continuous monitoring of the children enrolled under KAIN will be done by A1E together with the BHWs of Villa Ibaba to ensure that no children in the barangay will be malnourished again.
And with the success of this program in Villa Ibaba, A1E now plans to conduct KAIN in the nearby Barangay Villa Ilaya.
A1E’s health and sanitation programs aim to contribute in improving access to health care and maintaining a healthy community through the KAIN feeding program, facilitation of medical and dental missions to the marginalized residents of Atimonan, information campaigns on proper nutrition and hygiene, and improvement of health facilities in the town.