June 2017

July: Philippines Nutrition Month

2017 Nutrition Month

2017 malnutrition

On the occasion of the 2017 Nutrition Month in the Philippines, launched by the National Nutrition Council for July, we want to focus on one of the problems against which Kito Onlus fights everyday, that is the importance of a proper nutrition. As you know, malnutrition and undernourishment are serious problems in the Philippines, where the situation is exacerbated by the frequent natural disasters that assiduously affect the nation. Phenomena such as earthquakes, typhoons, and hurricanes contribute negatively to food distribution, maintenance of hygiene standards, efficiency and quality of health services and level of education regarding both nutrition and non-nutrition issues. In addition, the most vulnerable parts of the population such as women and children are the most affected ones. For this reason, Kito has over the years been engaged in training activities for children and their families on the principles of proper nutrition, services of children and maternal care and nutrition programs.

A complex issue

Malnutrition and undernourishment are so complex problems that need to be addressed from many perspectives, there is a need for co-operation of expertise in various subjects, from access to food, nutrition education, water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition to disaster. In this regard, the government should focus on the root causes of chronic malnutrition, such as poverty. For example, a measure to counter them could be to ensure education and employment, preferably within the province of residence, to mothers and future mothers, since the family’s eating habits are affected by parental unemployment and long distances to work or irregular working shifts tend to be associated with suboptimal feeding practices. Given that undernutrition or poor nutrition causes difficulties in various aspects of an individual’s life such as health, psycho-physical well-being, economic productivity, and education, it is a very difficult situation to stop. For example, in the most serious cases of vitamin D deficiency, stunting may occur and, if not addressed, affects the physical and mental development of a child with irreversible consequences when a child reaches the age of two. For instance, children who are stunted in the first two years are also more likely to repeat grades, delay school entry or drop out of school.

Some data

The data presented by the Global Hunger Index 2016 developed by the Food Policy Research Institute shows that the Philippines are among the nations with the most severe indexes in the feed with a 19.9 score on a scale from 0 to 100. The proportion of undernourished in population is 13.5 (%). And, for children under the age of five, the situation is even more tragic: the prevalence of stunting is 30.3 (%) and the percentage of wasting is 7.9 (%). Obviously, malnutrition problems increase the risk of contracting diseases and in the most critical cases, 2.8% of children under the age of 5, it causes death due to complications.
According to a study conducted by the Inter-Agency Regional Analyst Network (RAN) and Action Against Hunger (ACF) on the basis of data collected in 2016 in the Philippines there are about 3.4 million starving children and more than 300,000 underweight, all under 5 years. Unfortunately, numbers increase if we talk about Filipino children experiencing from hunger and malnutrition, estimated at about 7 million.
In addition, poor nutrition contributes to the levels of economic productivity in the country. As mentioned earlier, undernourishment has also an economical cost in the country. According to 2016 Save the Children study “Cost of Hunger: Philippines”, the cost of undernourishment in the Philippines amounted to over 320 billion per year, equivalent to almost 3% of GDP.
Finally, quoting the World Bank report, the study said that “a 1% loss in adult height as a result of childhood stunting is linked to a 1.4% loss in economic productivity, making them earn 20% less as adults”.

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June 12: World Day Against Child Labour and…Kito Onlus contribution in the Philippines

“Child labour is work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development” (Guy Ryder, ILO President)

The World Day Against Child Labour, which is held every year on June 12, is intended to foster the worldwide movement against child labour in any of its forms. It was first launched in 2002 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to raise awareness and to spread activism for preventing child labour.

Globally over 1.5 billion people live in countries that are affected by conflict, violence and fragility. A significant proportion of the 168 million children engaged in child labour live in areas affected by conflict and disaster. The 2017 World Day Against Child Labour focuses on the impact of conflicts and natural disasters on child labour.

Conflicts and natural disasters have a devastating impact on people’s lives. They kill, force people to flee their homes, push people into poverty and trap people in situations where their basic human rights are violated. Children are often the first to suffer as schools are destroyed and the basic service provision system is interrupted. Many children are internally displaced or become refugees in other countries, and are particularly vulnerable to trafficking and child labour. Ultimately, millions of children are pushed into child labour by conflicts and disasters. For this reason, urgent action is needed to tackle child labour in areas affected by conflict and disaster. If the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 8.7 which aims to “eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour” is to be achieved by 2030, the international community need to intensify any action to end child labour, including in areas affected by conflict and disasters.

Now let’s make a little focus on the phenomenon of Child Labour in the Philippines which is the country were Kito Onlus intervenes.

According to a 2015 ILO survey, in the Philippines, there are 2.1 million child labourers aged 5-17 years old based on the 2015 Survey on Children  of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) . “About 95 per cent of them are in hazardous work. Sixty-nine per cent of these are aged 15-17 years old, beyond the minimum allowable age for work but still exposed to hazardous work.”
Usually, children work in farms and plantations, in dangerous mines, on street, factories and in private homes as child domestic workers. Agriculture remains to be the sector where most child labourers can be found at 58 per cent.

How is Kito Onlus contributing to the ILO project of stopping Child Labour in the Philippines? As mentioned above, schools are the crucial environment for children to develop their mental and physical abilities. That’s why our no-profit organisation is currently committed to the rebuilding of Banilad Elementary School in Pinamalayan (Mindoro Island) which will allow 275 children to attend classes in a safe and comfortable environment instead of temporary tents. Indeed, these temporary tents could be a deterrent for poor families of the area that could decide to send them to work and not to get them an education since there is not a proper and safe building.

Kito Health Unit: Some updates

Today we talk about the Kito Health Unit: since 2013 our energy-self sufficient, pre-fabricated mobile unit used to provide medical care is active!

As the one who follows us already know, Kito has decided to donate the structure to the city of San Fernando, the Union (Philippines). Over the years, many and various services have been provided: hygiene and prevention campaigns, anti-bullying initiatives, outpatient visits, general and first aid medical care, nutrition programs as well as post-emergency relief missions. The Kito Health Unit offers fundamental services as center for emergencies, this is obvious simply thinking that Barangay Sagayad, where the building is currently located, is an evacuation area during natural disasters. Unfortunately, however, the Philippines are affected by an average of 30 natural disasters a year and today the area of ​​Barangay Sagayad is no longer the most in need of aid. For this reason, thanks to the cooperation with local partners, Kito intends to move the mobile unit to another area of ​​San Fernando, Barangay Nagyubuyuban, where there is a greater need for medical care. Indeed, Barangay Nagyubuyuban is located in a remote and isolated rural area with a population of approximately 1400 inhabitants, consisting mainly of large families engaged in primary sector’s activities (agriculture, breeding).

This is the area that has been identified in the Barangay Nagyubuyuban, which is now being prepared for the placement of our Medical Unit.

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While, in the pie chart below you can observe the services provided in the unit during the first 4 months of 2017 in Barangay Sagayad.

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As you can see, the main areas of intervention remain maternal health and nutrition. This is in line with the trends of the past years and with Kito’s main goals, which is aimed at supporting the most vulnerable sections of the population, such as women and children. In addition, the constantly positive feedbacks of the medical center guarantee that the activities of the Kito Health Unit will continue to be efficient and effective even once the structure will be moved to a needier area.