FORMER Cebu City mayor Dr. Florentino S. Solon died on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. He was 88.
Solon was the 20th mayor of Cebu City. He served from 1978 to 1983.
A graduate of the University of Santo Tomas with a Doctor of Medicine and a master in Public Health from the University of the Philippines in Manila, the country tagged him as the “champion of nutrition,” said Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar.
Before he became a mayor, Solon served as a municipal health officer in Cebu, executive director of the National Nutrition Council and president and executive director of the Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP).
When his mayoral term ended, he served as deputy minister of health, president and chief executive officer of Impact Foundation and vice chairman of Asia-Pacific Impact Foundation, said del Mar.
It was during Solon’s term as mayor that the Sinulog dance parade began in 1980.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella described him as the “epitome of humility in public service.”
Labella was still a prosecutor during Solon’s mayoral stint.
During the Solon administration, he said, the latter addressed the malnutrition problem among children.
“He should be credited for the effective nutrition programs (in the city and in the country),” Labella said.
He said that while convalescing in the hospital after surviving a shipwreck in 1998, Solon was one of the first few people to visit him.
“I remember the words Doc Dodong told me when he visited me in the hospital, ‘God did not want you to die, Ed, because you are too precious to go,’” he said.
As founding director of the NCP, Solon helped malnourished children not only in Cebu but in other parts of the country and the world as well.
In Nigeria where horseradish or malunggay was used only as a backyard fence, Solon taught the undernourished villagers how to use its leaves to fortify their daily meals with nutrients.
Solon established malnutrition wards (malwards) in the hospitals across the Philippines, and nutri-huts and nutri-buses, the rural and mobile version of the malwards to help fight malnutrition.
Under his leadership, the NCP proved in studies done from 2003 to 2005 that pan de sal baked from wheat flour and fortified with iron and vitamin A significantly reduced the prevalence of moderate anemia among anemic school children, leading to the Nutripan sa Eskwelahan project that made iron and vitamin A fortified bread available in public schools around the country.
In 2005, the International Union of Nutritional Science and the International Nutrition Foundation cited Solon as one of the world’s outstanding public health nutritionists. (JJL)