Building One Community for Nutrition: Zuellig Family Foundation’s Pook Malusog Community of Practice in Nutrition

News | by Krizzia Esperanza

Themed “Building One Community for Nutrition”, the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF) gathered nutrition officers and leaders from Sarangani, Samar, Northern Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, and Basilan to the first Pook Malusog Community of Practice (CoP) in Nutrition last June 26, 2024.

A platform for the group to collaborate, share insights, and learn from each other’s experiences, the Pook Malusog CoP validates and affirms best practices, and opens partnerships to adapt and harmonize innovative interventions. Dr. Anthony Faraon, ZFF Deputy Executive Director, emphasized how the CoP helps foster partnerships to improve nutrition programs. He said, “Our CoP would be the venue of our continuing work and partnership. This is just the start. We hope to continue learning together and work on identifying and improving our nutritionally-at-risk, pregnant women, and low-birth weight infants. Ang ating pagsasama-sama will continue for years.” (Our collaboration will continue on for years.)

Lou Ann Alterado, Nutrition Project Manager of ZFF, stressed the CoP objective further: “Our one goal is to reduce stunting and improve nutrition. Iba-iba ang approach natin dahil iba-iba ang context, pero gusto natin matuto sa ibang lugar para ma-apply sa iba pang lugar.” (Each region has a different approach due to varying contexts, but we aim to learn from each other to apply strategies across different areas.) 

The group identified themes or topics for the CoP. Common starting points include the significance of institutional support, proactivity of Local Chief Executives in championing nutrition, and social norms and behaviors affecting health and nutrition. In the afternoon, the group convened for the provincial and municipal sharing of strategies and approaches.

Provincial Sharing: Provincial Approaches to Enhancing Health and Nutrition

Hannah Bautista of Northern Samar shared their training of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) and Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS), and establishment of referral systems and in-patient therapeutic care facilities, contributing to the significant decline of stunting rates in the province. Alien Khio of Zamboanga del Norte talked about their partnership with the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) for the establishment of a food processing plant to produce nutritious foods and snacks. Nadzwa Sabandal of Basilan narrated their journey from having no resources to creating a comprehensive nutrition program, which includes standardized incentives for BNS. Dr. Arvin Alejandro of Sarangani, presenting via Zoom, introduced the Sarangani Health Information and Management System for tracking nutritional status and other health determinants.

Municipal Sharing: Strengthening Engagement with Barangays and Families in Health and Nutrition Programs

Dr. Nur Khan Istarul of Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, Jovelle Royandoyan of Pagsanghan, Samar, Natividad Lao of Bobon, Northern Samar, Ronilyne Moneva of Kiamba, Sarangani, and Melgian Saquilan of Leon Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte represented their respective municipalities in the municipal sharing. Tipo-Tipo focused on co-ownership with local officials and Barangay Health Workers (BHWs). Pagsanghan showcased the “Hangkop” (Hug) stunting rehabilitation project and other early childhood nutrition programs. Bobon highlighted a multi-sectoral approach leading to functional Barangay Nutrition Committees. Kiamba’s Kiamba Cares project emphasized community empowerment, partnerships for nutrition financing, and tailored initiatives for Indigenous People communities. Leon Postigo promoted backyard gardening, prenatal care, and other community-driven programs, contributing to improved nutrition outcomes.

Dr. Jane Jaug of the Department of Health-Zamboanga del Norte, shared her reflection, noting good leadership as key to improved nutrition outcomes in the represented provinces and municipalities. She said, “Tuloy-tuloy lang ang pangarap, lalo na may good governance.” (Keep pursuing your dreams, especially when there is good governance.)

One Community for Nutrition: the Pook Malusog Community of Practice Facebook Group

In defining their engagement under the CoP, the group agreed to maintain a Facebook group page where they can exchange ideas, strategies, and perspectives in improving their nutrition program implementation. Dr. Joyce Ann Viar, ZFF Nutrition Portfolio Director, shared in closing, “This is not yet the end, but the beginning. CoP is not just a platform to exchange ideas and strategies, but part of ZFF’s commitment to continue the assistance in the provinces.”


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