WHILE Central Visayas recorded a lower malnutrition rate in 2009, Cebu City and two towns in the Province of Cebu are on the list of areas in the region with high incidence of malnutrition.

In the top five cities identified by the National Nutrition Council (NNC), Cebu City ranked fifth, with a malnutrition prevalence rate of 5.68 percent.

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The Negros Oriental cities of Canlaon (11.34 percent), Bayawan (10.62 percent), Bais (10.2 percent) and Tanjay (6.42 percent) occupied the top four spots.

The towns of Ronda and Dalaguete in Cebu ranked second (18.12 percent) and eighth (16.30 percent), respectively, in the

list of municipalities in the region with undernourished children.

The malnutrition rate in the whole region lowered to 7.49 percent last year, compared to the 8.28 percent in 2008.

Susan Orpilla, NNC 7 nutrition officer, said in yesterday’s Kapihan sa PIA that one reason for Cebu City’s inclusion in the list is the increasing migration of indigents in the city from other areas.

She said pre-school children are monitored in the “Operation Timbang” program, which weighs pupils for the NNC to get

information on the health of children.

In the case of Ronda and Dalaguete, Orpilla said the local governments need to prioritize nutrition in the municipal and barangay levels.

Orpilla lamented that some local government units, particularly in the barangay level, have failed to prioritize health programs.

But Orpilla said she could not blame local nutrition councils who have been working hard at improving their town’s situation through health programs, such as feeding and providing micro-nutrient supplementation to children.

One of the challenges is some parents are too lazy or neglect the health of their children, she added. Poverty also contributes to the problem.

Orpilla advised the three local governments to address the malnutrition of their children through complementary feeding and breastfeeding for newborns.

She also advised the local governments to create more legislation that can ensure food security at the household level, such as putting up mini-vegetable gardens. (JKV)