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PBA 2021: Converging efforts with local government and RHUs to strengthen health and nutrition initiatives in Mindanao

Limited access to quality health care has been one of the identified humanitarian gaps within remote areas even before the pandemic. This immediately took a turn for the worse when COVID-19 negatively impacted these health systems. Many primary healthcare services have become inaccessible due to the lockdown restrictions or overcapacity of patients. Conflict-affected communities─especially the poor, displaced, and those in other vulnerable conditions─are at greater risk more than ever.

This is why our Program-Based Approach (PBA) in Mindanao has been coordinating with rural health units to ensure that primary health services are available, sustainable, and easily accessed by vulnerable communities.

Since the second quarter of 2021, we have been sponsoring medical-dental missions of the local government with support funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

Dental Services during the Health Mission at Lumbatan last August 23, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

A total of 1,202 people—collectively from Binidayan and Lumbatan of Lanao del Sur—participated in a series of activities from July 26 to September 2. Our nutrition screening activities were also integrated with the health mission to converge our health initiatives on the ground.

MUAC Screening during the Health Mission at Lumbatan on September 2, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Following the nutrition screening, all individuals identified to have severe or moderate acute malnutrition were then referred to the RHUs to receive appropriate care and treatment. To supplement their nutritional needs, they will also receive financial assistance from our multi-purpose cash program.

Nutrition Awareness Session during the Health Mission in Binidayan on July 26, 2021(Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Aside from these interventions, nutrition-awareness sessions were also held to refresh or heighten the participants’ knowledge of good health practices. In Binidayan, pregnant and lactating women (PLW) who are at nutritional risk also received hygiene kits and hygiene promotion sessions.

Hygiene Kit Distribution for PLWs at Binidayan during the Health Mission on July 26, 2021 (Photo by PBA Mindanao 2021 for Action Against Hunger)

Our efforts to stop and prevent hunger continues. We aim to fully protect, assist, and advocate for disadvantaged communities that are at greater risk to societal, environmental, and health crises.

The Program-Based Approach (PBA), otherwise referred to as ‘Multi-Sectoral Lifesaving Assistance to People Most Vulnerable to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Conflict, and Disasters ─ Mindanao Program 2021’ is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and implemented by Action Against Hunger Philippines.


Written by Joyce Anne Sandajan Read more

Real Life Heroes: Nino Renz Santos

One of our Nutrition Assistants shares his story of how he became a humanitarian worker and his experiences following this decision. Get to know, Nino Renz Santos, one of our Real Life Heroes:

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗮 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝗲𝗿?

It all started when I volunteered on a project in Bohol last 2013. The decision of engaging a volunteer work was made out from my unrewarding work at my hometown. At first, my family was not in favor with it because of the distance and personal reasons. Eventually they gave their blessings to me because they believed that this would make me happy. During my work and stay in Bohol, the province suffered from a strong earthquake and shifted the project on emergency relief.

Despite the trauma, lack of sleep and demanding work required for disaster response, it never gave me reasons to complain because I felt that the communities’ needs for help is more important than my own. Less than a month after the earthquake, a strong typhoon devasted the Visayas islands which led to project’s suspension and sending off the volunteers out of Bohol. In spite the rollercoaster ride of emotions, the volunteer experience significantly changed my life and became my personal calling in doing humanitarian work. It opened doors for me to help and work with the communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Samar.

Now that I’m with Action Against Hunger, I remain as a humanitarian worker because I always believe that humanitarian work is more than a job; it is a calling to make a difference in the lives of people in times of distress.

 

Why are you making this sacrifice?

My life now as a humanitarian worker has been different from the one I had back home. Going out of my comfort zone requires self-sacrifice but in return it taught me to be independent and raised the bars for my personal and professional growth. It also led me to practice my profession as a nutritionist-dietitian particularly in the field of public health. Public health nutrition was my Achilles heel back in college, but it has now become my professional expertise and strongpoint in development work. The various exposure to the realities of the communities and personalities adds yearning to further improve myself so that I can better respond to the changing and varying needs of the communities. Finally, these experiences helped me understand life outside than what I’m used to, and I hope that my simple contribution can suffice to improve the lives of the people I work with.

 

What have been the challenges to your work because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

I was worried that I might contract COVID-19 while working in the communities. But through self-care and precautions, I am blessed that I didn’t acquire the virus to date. To worry and fear of one’s health while working on this time of pandemic is already challenging for us humanitarian workers. But to put one’s mental health to test during these trying times hits different and I was not spared from it. Prior to the pandemic and unbeknownst to me, I was already experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. It got worse during the height of the pandemic and it affected my work that I had to reschedule my planned health and nutrition activities. To overcome this, my physician recommended me to consult with a clinical psychologist and undergo psychometry. With the support of my friends and workmates, my mental health gradually improved, and I can now manage my anxiety.

What motivates you to keep doing your work despite these challenges?

While I was recovering for my mental health, there were people who pushed me to my boundaries and helped me realize of why I’m doing humanitarian work in the first place. If it wasn’t for my supervisor – Levy Marcon, who encouraged me to implement the activities while my psychometry was ongoing, I would have applied for sick leave and succumbed to sadness for doing nothing. If it weren’t for the enthusiastic and proactive health workers and local leaders of our partner communities in Lanao del Sur, there would have been more children or mothers suffering from double burden with the ongoing pandemic. It’s okay not to be okay during this pandemic but I chose to be in service of others and give them a sense of hope.

 

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my contribution in helping communities rise from adversities. Not everyone can have the opportunity to be able to work directly with vulnerable populations and help them to recovery. Despite the added challenges working through this pandemic, the experience brought me feelings of accomplishment by fulfilling my duties as a humanitarian worker. And for that, I am blessed and grateful that I can continue this calling: to bring positive impact and lasting changes to communities.

Nino Renz Santos is currently working as one of the Nutrition Assistants of our ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao’ (REACH) Project which is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and is implemented together with CARE Philippines, Oxfam Philippines, and their local partners.

Providing Shelter Kits to 76 Households in Sayaban Transitory Sites, Barangay Ilomawis, Kidapawan City, North Cotobato

Written by Joayra Gem Balagtas for Action Against Hunger
“I remember, we had to sleep on the floor with just sacks during our first nights in the tent. You will feel the cold mud beneath it, but it’s all we had at that time,” recalls 56 year-old evacuee, Josephine Barila.
 
To say that life in the evacuation site is not the most comfortable, is truly an understatement. Evacuees try their best to survive daily through the aid they receive, and whatever is left or saved from their properties.
 
Access to shelter is not only a basic need but also a human right, and because of the pandemic, having an adequate home that guarantees safety is more important now than ever. In order to address this, our Emergency Response Team provided shelter kits to 76 households in Sayaban Transitory Sites, Barangay Ilomawis, Kidapawan City, North Cotabato last September 11. The kits include materials that evacuees can use to build beds or platforms inside their evacuation tents. ‘Build Back Safer’ awareness sessions were also conducted.
 
Through this assistance, we hope to provide some comfort to the evacuees who have been displaced since the #MindanaoEarthquakes late last year.
 
This was made possible through the funding of the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid – ECHO and support from our consortium partners from CARE Philippines and ACCORD Incorporated.
 
(Photos by Joayra Gem Balagtas for Action Against Hunger)

Strengthening our Risk Communication and Community Engagement Efforts to Prevent Spread of the Coronavirus

Part of our initiatives in preventing the spread of the coronavirus is by strengthening our risk communication and community engagement efforts which have reached more than 200,000 people.

Wherever we work, we motivate families and communities to uphold proper hygiene and sanitation practices through our hygiene promotion sessions, allowing them to understand the value of hygiene in fighting infectious diseases, as well as hunger and malnutrition.

𝗬𝗼𝘂 𝘁𝗼𝗼 𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗶𝗻 𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗼𝗰𝗮𝗰𝘆 𝗯𝘆 𝗱𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴: https://actionagainsthunger.ph/call-for-donations/

Life After The Mindanao Earthquake: 82 Year Old Man Living By Himself

Written by Joayra Gem Balagtas for Action Against Hunger

 

82-year old Pedro Sanchez has been living alone in the evacuation site in Perez, Kidapawan ever since the Mindanao earthquakes last year. All three of his children now have families of their own. They would sometimes send him financial help, but it is usually not enough to support Pedro since their families have needs as well.

More than a year ago, Pedro was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered a stroke, and he hasn’t been able to walk ever since. He can hardly hear as well, which he says could probably be because of his old age.

Pedro relies on his good neighbors for assistance in taking care of himself. Whenever he has money, he asks his neighbors to buy him supplies and food. They also volunteer to do his laundry and other chores that he has trouble doing by himself. However, there are days where his neighbors aren’t around to help him, so no matter how challenging, he does these tasks on his own.

Last September 21, our 𝗘𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗸𝗲 𝗘𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆 𝗥𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺 provided Pedro a wheelchair, to help him go through his daily activities with more ease. Teary-eyed, Pedro expressed his gratitude as he saw the wheelchair being pulled towards his tent.

Pedro is one of the 200 target beneficiaries to receive health and protection assistance as part of our 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲-𝘀𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗲𝗼𝗽𝗹𝗲 𝗮𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 #𝗠𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗼𝗘𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗵𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗸𝗲 which is funded by the EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid – ECHO.

To find out more on our Emergency Responses in the Philippines, go to:
https://actionagainsthunger.ph/what-we-do/…

Awareness Training on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in the Community and Municipalities of Mindanao City

Humanitarian crises create devastating impacts to the communities affected, but what is most scarring is the psychological trauma and stress that these emergency situations leave behind.

We are steadfast in mitigating these impacts and work closely with several conflict-affected communities in Mindanao.

Thus, last August, we facilitated an 𝗔𝘄𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗣𝘀𝘆𝗰𝗵𝗼𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗴𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗡𝘂𝘁𝗿𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 for 60 community volunteers, leaders and LGU health staff members from the municipalities of Saguiaran, Kapai, Balindong and Madamba in Lanao del Sur, and Municipality of Pantao Ragat in Lanao Del Sur.

Funded by EU Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid – ECHO, the training was part of our ‘Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao’ (REACH) Project in partnership with CARE Philippines and Oxfam Pilipinas.

Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about our 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐬: https://actionagainsthunger.ph/

Ensuring the Health and Safety of the Communities We Work with Through Nutrition-sensitization Trainings

Prior to the pandemic, the Philippines was already one of the top 10 countries worldwide with the highest number of stunted children. This is alarming since the risk of mortality among undernourished children, increases 15-fold if they develop pneumonia.

Because of this, we rolled out nutrition-sensitization trainings for our local government partners and health volunteers who are our allies in ensuring the health and safety of the communities we work with.

Learn more about our programs on nutrition & health: https://actionagainsthunger.ph/what-we-do/#nutrition-and-health

#TogetherAgainstCOVID19, #COVID19PH, #COVID19, #EndHungerPH,
#nutrition, #health, #malnutrition, #childhunger, #filipinochildren, #philippines, #developmentwork, #humanitarianwork, #frontliners

GENERATION NUTRITION: ACTION AGAINST HUNGER JOINS THE NATION IN MAKING SURE ALL CITIZENS OF OUR NATION HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES TO BE HEALTHY AND SAFE

Every year, the Philippines commemorates National ‪‎Nutrition Month and National ‪‎Disaster Consciousness Month in August under the auspices of Department of Health’s National Nutrition Council and the National Risk Reduction and Management Council’s Office of Civil Defense respectively.‬‬
On this occasion, Action Against Hunger joins the nation in making sure individuals, communities, and all citizens of our nation have the same opportunities to be healthy and safe from external shocks through resilience and nutrition security approaches.
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world, ranking third among countries most prone to calamities, according to the 2015 World Risk Index report. While the level of child malnutrition in the Philippines is declining due to significant nutrition initiatives, malnutrition remains an important public health concern among children aged 0-5. In the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, the Philippines tops the countries in Southeast Asian region with the prevalence of wasted children (underweight) at 7.9% and critical levels of stunting (short for their age) at 30.3%.
Following a disaster, the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged groups, particularly the women and young children, are the most vulnerable social groups to the impacts of hazard events including climate change. Action Against Hunger Philippines believes that it is crucial to build the resilience of the Filipino people, by supporting initiatives that ensure food security and livelihoods through programs, which aim to increase people’s resilience to food crises and prevent undernutrition during and after emergency interventions. Action Against Hunger Philippines’ nutrition and health interventions contribute to reducing the vulnerability to climate related hazards. Children with good food, health and nutritional status are better equipped to face climate-related hazards compared to undernourished children.
Action Against Hunger Philippines implements programs in increasing the resiliency of the vulnerable communities in different parts of the country, providing life-saving interventions to the poorest communities through risk reduction (emergency preparedness and response planning); support adaptation strategies (resilient livelihoods approach); mitigation (social protection mechanism; cash transfer and promoting micro-insurances); and boost community and household capacities through water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs; capacity-building; disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation planning and advocacy.
The increasing impact and threats of climate change and natural disasters calls for concerted efforts now. The expected increase in natural hazards related to climate change will further amplify the vulnerabilities of millions of Filipinos, especially the most vulnerable groups. Action Against Hunger Philippines calls on President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration to prioritize a multiple-track approach:
• Address the drivers of climate change though climate change mitigation and adaptation in order to minimize the extent of future negative and potentially disastrous impacts induced by climate change.
• Scale-up coverage of and increase access to interventions to treat and prevent malnutrition adopting a multi-sectoral approach.
• Mainstream climate sensitive nutrition initiatives and nutrition objectives into national and local Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation Plans.
• Secure dedicated funds from both the local government unit development fund and local DRRM fund to ensure institutionalization of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to effectively address wasting and stunting among Filipino children.

STORIES OF CHANGE: INFLUENCING HEALTH CARE SEEKING BEHAVIOR THROUGH NUTRITION-SENSITIVE PROGRAMMING

A young family from Pendolunan Marawi City fled to Malabang, Lanao del Sur when Marawi siege happened in 2017. This is the family of Sohairen Bangon. Sohairen is an 18 months old boy and 2nd child of Acmad Bangon and Juhaina Marohomsar. Their 1st son is also an under 5 years old boy. But life was difficult in Malabang, so they decided that Juhaina and her two children would better stay in Tuca, Madamba Lanao del Sur with her father. While Acmad will work as a tricycle driver in Malabang and sometimes he would visit his family in Tuca.

Juhaina, 22 years old, is a young mother who lacks guidance on how to take care of her children. Her son Sohairen was nutritionally screened by the Rural Health Unit (RHU) staffs and found out that this child has Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) earlier of year 2019. Prior to this screening, Sohairen was hospitalized due to Pneumonia. RHU Staff enrolled this child to treatment but became a defaulter. This is because Juhaina was non-compliant to the treatment of her son Sohairen. Whenever they were given Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) supplies, she gives portion of it to her 1st child. So Sohairen was not receiving the required nutrients pack in the treatment. Their poverty situation all the more aggravated the situation affecting the whole family with the head of the family not having a sustainable job and income enough to provide their basic needs.

Through the project “REACH: Response to the Unmet Humanitarian Needs of the Most Vulnerable Conflict-Affected Populations in Mindanao”, Juhaina attended sessions on hygiene promotion, received hygiene kits and hyposol, and participated in nutrition education and psychosocial support. The REACH team organized a nutrition screening and nutrition education activity in Madamba last December 2019 in which Juhaina’s son, Sohairen, underwent nutrition screening and was still identified with SAM condition. To fully access the project’s health support, Juhaina supported her son on SAM nutrition management and treatment. In coordination with the Municipal Health Office, Sohairen was referred to RHU and started taking RUTF in December 18, 2019.

Since Juhaina’s family was found to be food insecure, she also accessed the project’s cash assistance for food amounting to Php4,320.00. The support enabled her to provide for her family’s food needs for a month, meeting each member’s required daily nutritional needs.

Sohairen’s condition was regularly monitored by the project team from the time he was enrolled in SAM treatment and finally in February 5, 2020, he transitioned to Ready-to-Use Supplemental Feeding (RUSF). “Tumaba na po ang anak ko (My son has gained weight),” Juhaina happily shared during one of the monitoring visits. This improvement was validated by the RHU Nurse saying, “Nag-improve na po ang weight ni Sohairen. Ngayon po itatransition na siya to RUSF (The weight of Sohairen has improved. He will now be transitioned to RUSF).”

This is just one of the stories of hope in saving children like Sohairen and his brother at the same time allowing the mother to eat well and be healthy in preparation for her 3rd baby delivery anytime soon, through the integrated humanitarian assistance provided by the REACH Project.

The Project “REACH” is funded by ECHO and implemented by the consortium Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, ACCORD, with CARE as lead. It aimed to address the unmet humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations in Mindanao. The project provided support in Food Security and Nutrition, WASH, and access to health services (Primary health care, nutrition and psychosocial support).●