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ALMERIA, Biliran,  – This town has a unique nutrition program that has drawn attention – “Adopt a Malnourished Child”, an initiative that compelled local officials to support severely malnourished children

Members of the town nutrition committee headed by Mayor Dominador Agajan, have adopted 21 severely underweight children though the regular provision of vitamins and milk.

“Third degree malnourished children 0-71 months old can already be adopted by a sponsor by giving them supply of milk, supplements and many more. The parents of the child and the sponsor sign a letter as an agreement for both parties,” town health officer Evelyn Garcia said.

On top of this, the town also strongly advocates for exclusive breastfeeding and proper care for pregnant women and infants.

“We are still advocating the breastfeeding of mother to infant to satisfy the child’s nutrition from 0-71 months. Sponsors will only supply milk if the mother can’t really provide breast milk,”Garcia added.

Through this strategy, some malnourished children have been totally treated even after suffering congenital defects.

Out of 21 severely underweight children, five have been successfully rehabilitated and gain proper weight after a year while nine are still getting support.

“As of now, I am sponsoring one child with vitamins and milks, but sometimes I give the parents money to buy additional items for the child’s necessities,” Agajan said.

To measure the effectiveness of local programs, officials also conduct regular weighing activity and monthly weight assessment of all children less than six years old.

Vitamin A supplementation and deworming is being done twice a year covering 2,398 children in the town.

The nutrition committee also implements the Annual Pabasa sa Nutrisyon, a nutrition education drive, which has been participated by 214 mothers from 13 villages. Top performing participants were recognized during the culmination program of Nutrition Month every end of July.

The town’s malnutrition rate dropped to five percent this year from 9.11 percent in 2014. (PNA)