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PIA Press Release

Cebu City focuses on fight vs. malnutrition, dengue

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu, Philippines (4 February) -- Government is intensifying its anti-hunger programs even as poverty rate in the country declined by 10 percent.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo told her cabinet recently that this administration continues its relentless quest to alleviate poverty in-spite the positive upturn of the number of Filipinos that rated themselves as "food-poor" in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey.

According to the SWS, in the December 2007 survey results, 32% of Filipino families put themselves on the Food Borderline and 34% consider themselves as "Not Food-Poor."

The SWS added that the results revealed that Self-Rated Food Poverty has been on a downward trend since June 2006, reaching a 37% in June 2007.

Meantime, the Cebu City government will focus and prioritize its massive campaign on the fight against malnutrition and dengue.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena, in his message during the legislative assembly of the Barangay Council for the Protection Children (BCPC) at Parklane recently called on all the barangay officials to help the city in its fight against malnutrition and dengue.

"Dengue is a problem that is worse than having five serial killers in the City," Osmena said, and malnutrition robs the children their right to healthy living.

While the city government has initiated feeding programs in the past years and distributed vitamins and food supplements to malnourished children in the barangays, "we still failed to reach the ones that really need the most," the mayor said.

This time, the city government will pinpoint and really identify the malnourished children and "we will focus on them," Osmena added.

The city had asked the services of former Cebu City mayor Florentino Solon, who is also currently the president and executive director of the Nutrition Center of the Philippines to help the city in the campaign.

Solon suggested an extraordinarily detailed networking of the barangays including that of needing one volunteer for every affected resident.

Following Solon's advice, Osmena instructed the City Health Department to start the mobilization and organization of identified families and volunteers for the massive drive against malnutrition this year. With this, the city needs 5000 to 10000 volunteers.

The City Health Department said, the 10 worst hit barangay in terms of malnutrition are T. Padilla, Kalunasan, Mambaling, Inayawan, Sawang Calero, Pahina Central, Pahina San Nicolas, Ermita, Budlasan and Tejero.

On the other hand, the dengue problem continues to haunt the barangays. The City Health Dept. reported 107 dengue cases and four (4) deaths from January 1-23, 2008. In 2007, recorded dengue cases reached 2,160 with 53 deaths.

"If dengue cases in the city are not addressed, deaths may further increase to more than 50 by the end of 2008. Our biggest problem is lack of awareness," Mayor Osmena told the gathering.

Hence, he is calling all barangay officials that the city government needed their help in fighting dengue and malnutrition among children. The mayor plans to introduce a "dengue scare" campaign by putting up signs such as "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A DENGUE ZONE" in dengue-affected barangays.

The mayor hopes that the residents upon reading the sign would start cleaning stagnant waters and their surroundings. Health officials also encouraged baranagay residents to continue doing the 4-o'clock habit of cleaning and conducting a "search and destroy" dengue breeding areas.

The City government has also established dengue testing centers at the Cebu City Medical Center and in some hospitals to provide free and immediate assistance to patients suspected with dengue.

In conclusion, the mayor and all the health officials in the city said they do not want to lose this battle and they need the support of the various Barangay Councils for the Protection of Children (BCPCs) in this fight. (PIA-Cebu) [top]

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