Around 900 Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNSs) from all over North Luzon converged on 19-20 July in Angeles City, Pampanga for their biennial national conference to renew their commitment to end malnutrition in their respective barangays. As community-based volunteers, Barangay Nutrition Scholars bridge the gap between families and service providers to deliver nutrition and related services. The BNS are members of the LuzViMin BNS Federation which is composed of about 42,000 BNSs nationwide.
With the theme, “PPAN para sa Bayan, Nutrition at Serbisyo” , the conference underscores the significant role of the BNSs in the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022 as the country’s framework of action for nutrition improvement. The PPAN was recently launched in Iloilo City last May.
In this conference, the BNSs were briefed on their tasks to implement the PPAN including identifying and referring children with acute malnutrition, who if not immediately treated may die; and monitoring their growth towards recovery. They will also enable other mother volunteers to provide peer counselling to mothers on infant and young child feeding practices. Aside from service delivery, BNS will advocate for increased support for nutrition programs in their cities and municipalities.
BNS Mary Grace Tamayo and BNS Danilo Posion, both National Outstanding BNSs for 2014 and 2015, respectively, shared their initiatives, experiences and strategies in coordinating and networking for improved nutrition programs. The BNS were also taught about gender and development and nutrition and the Early Childhood Care and Development and Developmental Milestones.
The LuzVimin BNS Federation, Inc. also held their general assembly to discuss ways of supporting the implementation of the PPAN. They identified ways of advocating for legislation to amend Presidential Decree 1569 which created the BNS 1978. Currently, BNS may avail of the Php70 per month travelling allowance from the National Nutrition Council which is supplemented buy varying amounts ranging from Php100-Php1,000 from the local government subject to their funding capacity. As volunteers, they have no security since they can easily be replaced by the local chief executive.
NNC Deputy Executive Director Dr. Azucena Dayanghirang in her message, appealed to the BNS for them to continue serving their communities to end malnutrition which is referred to as a national emergency. Latest data shows that 33% of children under- five years old are stunted or short for their age which is a condition that is irreversible and has a negative impact on the child’s future health and productivity and the country’s economy.
This sub-conference for North Luzon BNSs is the second of the four conferences for the different clusters: Visayas Cluster (Western, Central and Eastern Visayas regions), South Luzon Cluster (CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Bicol and National Capital Region) and Mindanao Cluster (Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, SOCKSSARGEN, Caraga and Autonomous Region in Muslim MIndanao).
The conference was organized by the National Nutrition Council in partnership with the LuzViMin BNS Federation, Inc.