Freddie G. Lazaro
LAOAG CITY – One solution to address problem on malnutrition lies in the planting of Moringa Oleifera, more popularly known as malunggay, Senator Loren Legarda said recently.
In line with the observance of Nutrition Month this July, Legarda aired her appeal recently for Ilocanos to plant malunggay in vacant lots to address hunger and nutrition problems especially in the countryside.
“Malunggay is a good source of vitamins A, B and C and minerals such as iron, among others. We need to formulate a sustainable framework for the growing of malunggay in every backyard so we can maximize its health, nutritional and other benefits,” Legarda said.
Because of the many uses of malunggay, Legarda has re-filed her proposed Malunggay Development Act, under Senate Bill No. 104 to spur the production, processing, marketing and distribution of the plant in suitable areas of the country in order to acquire its benefits.
She also cited that there’s a need for the government to strengthen its health and nutrition programs as the country’s chronic malnutrition rate has increased from 30.3 percent in 2013 to 33.5 percent in 2015 based on latest Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) data.
“The basic cause of prevalent diseases suffered by children is malnutrition arising primarily from inadequate food intake. Undernourishment is largely preventable especially with early and effective interventions,” the lady senator said.
She added,“We must tackle malnutrition concerns at the grassroots level. Our programs must be community-based and should involve our schools so that the importance of nutrition and health are also inculcated in the minds of our children.”
In Ilocos Norte, aside from promoting the planting of malunggay in every household’s backyard, the members of the Provincial Nutrition Action Office (PNAO) are presently conducting proper health and nutrition education campaign to all mothers and children in the villages.
Provincial Nutrition Action Officer Elma S. Irapta believed that the continuing information and education campaign on proper nutrition in the community is one of the effective ways in solving malnutrition.
As per record, the malnutrition rate in Ilocos Norte has been decreasing in the past two years. The recorded provincial malnutrition rate in 2015 is at 5.18 percent which is lower than the 7.53 percent recorded in 2013. (JNPD/FGL/PIA-1, Ilocos Norte)