ASIDE from the Disaster Resiliency theme “Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro Para sa Tunay na Pagbabago”, the month of July also wants us to be healthy (with Nutrition Month celebration) themed: “Kumain nang Wasto at Maging Aktibo... Push Natin ‘to!”. Obviously, these are for a single goal of making everyone better.
Nutrition is a part of Disaster Risk Reduction. It plays a role in the vulnerabilities that we need to improve. The vulnerability (with respect to disaster) of a certain individual is directly proportional to the wellness of their bodies. If someone is not healthy, risk to hazard would be of significant scale.
The Nutrition Month theme explains it well. Proper nutrition leads to activeness, not only for the kids, but for everyone in the society. We always say that preparedness is the key in DRRM (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management), but we cannot be prepared if our bodies are not in proper shape and nutrition. Someone who is weak and in bad health, because of having too little food or too little of the types of food necessary for good health, may not be able to prepare for a disaster. Same is true with responders and rescuers whose health and nutrition is vital in disaster response and resiliency.
Nutrition in disaster risk reduction in the Philippines is being managed through agency coordination of the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Nutrition Council (NNC). They work hand in hand to reduce nutrition deficiency and make every Filipino healthy (while there is no disaster yet). Their counterpart in the municipal level is the nutrition officer who works for the community.
When there is a disaster, the setting changes. The cluster approach takes place wherein different clusters will now be activated to be under the vice chairperson for Response. In the national and regional DRRMCs, this vice chairperson is the head of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD). There are many clusters under the DSWD during Response, but among them, which involves our topic for now, is the Health Cluster and is headed by the DOH. To make it more specific, with regards to responsibilities, under the health cluster are four (4) more Sub-clusters: (1) Medical and Public Health, (2) Water-Sanitation-Hygiene, (3) Mental Health and Psycho-social Support Services and (4) Nutrition. This means that Nutrition in Disaster Response is under the responsibility of the DOH.
In the municipal level, it should be easier if there is a municipal nutritionist. The complication, however, is the fact that our municipal nutrition officer (or maybe the municipal nutrition action officer) is overwhelmed by the protocols of the two agencies (NNC and DOH) in the national and regional level. But, the way I see it, it could still work out. Perhaps, during Prevention, Mitigation, and Preparedness, NNC and DOH works as per their own guidelines. And during response, NNC and DOH must adopt the Philippine Response Cluster System and follow the National Disaster Response Plans prepared by the national DRRMC.
My suggestions here were also forwarded to the representatives of the NNC, DOH, UNICEF, WFP and UP Los Banos, and we hope they would clarify their procedures sooner or later too. After all, we have a common goal of making our Community Disaster Resilient.
By the way, Last Saturday was my Manong Pancho Esnara’s thanksgiving ceremonies after making it to the Bokod Sangguniang Bayan, and on his behalf, I would like to thank everyone, who in one way or another, have made the event successful and momentous. E-magangans, e-bunagans, and the whole of Bokod Communities, Salamat Apo!