Public urged not to ignore ‘hidden hunger’ PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:08

Basilan health office personnel urged the public not to ignore “hidden hunger” as a primary concern of every household and save children from a future that is hampered by poor human development.

Leilani Eugenio, Health Education and Promotions Officer of the Provincial Health Office (PHO),  said micronutrient malnutrition “afflicts a far greater swath of humanity than insufficient calorie intake.” She said that it is often called “hidden hunger” because it is not readily apparent from clinical signs of a wasted body.

Eugenio, together with Nadswa Sario-Sahandal, PHO Nutrition Program Coordinator and Sarah Jimbul, National Nutrition Council representative for Basilan were guests recently at the Philippine Information Agency’s radio program Noticias-Informaccion con Musica over DXNO-FM Radyo Komunidad in
Isabela City.

Nadzwa Sario-Sahandal, PHO Nutrition Program Coordinator said that hidden hunger is unlike the hunger that comes from a lack of food. “It is a chronic lack of vitamins and minerals that often have no visible warning signs, so that people who suffer from it may not even be aware of it,” she explained, stressing further that its consequences are nevertheless disastrous, where it can lead to mental impairment, poor health and productivity, or even death.
“One in three people in the world suffer from hidden hunger. Women and children from the lower income groups in developing countries are often the most affected,” she said.

PHO data revealed that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) recorded a 26.6 percent incidence of protein energy malnutrition in 2011 and Basilan has a 15 percent incidence rate.

And based on the Micronutrient Malnutrition Data NNS of 2008, the PHO revealed that the ARMM has a 47.3 percent incidence rate of pregnant women with Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA), 29.8 percent incidence rate among lactating women, and 22.7 percent among children below five years old.

Other type or forms of micronutrient malnutrition are vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which may result to low resistance to infection, unnecessary blindness, and stunted growth among children and infants; iodine deficiency disorder (IDD), which may result to poor learning ability, low motivation, and poor schools performance among children and congenital abnormalities, growth retardation, delayed walking and speech, and increase neonatal and infant mortality in infants. Folate deficiency will impair distribution of oxygen to cells.

Sahandal, however, disclosed that pregnant and lactating women are most vulnerable for the obvious reason that they bear and nurse a child. She said that improving the health of individuals suffering from hidden hunger has wide-ranging economic benefits because lack of essential vitamins and minerals: can increase child and maternal mortality and cause birth defects and developmental disabilities, contributes to and exacerbates global poverty, constrains women’s empowerment, and limits the productivity and economic growth of nations.

With this reality, the health department in ARMM and Basilan intensified its micronutrient supplementation program intervention and delivery of health services, including advocacy programs promoting more intakes of micronutrients.

With the Department of Health, the PHO is also providing Vitamin A, iron and folic, and iodine supplementation, including zinc in the management of diarrhea.

Eugenio further noted that the consciousness of mothers and parents on the food intakes that contains what they call “the 1 plus 3”, referring to meals that contains go, grow, and glow foods, is vital to the government’s campaign versus hidden hunger. She said that aside from the food supplement being provided by the government, every household can help fight micronutrient malnutrition if parents are conscious of the “1 plus 3” food intakes. “This is what the health office hopes to strengthen,” she said.