NOTE: This story was first published in The Bohol Chronicle’s Sunday print edition.
The recent regional recognition awarded for Bohol’s milk-feeding program rendered an appeasing tap on the shoulder for the less-appreciated officials who have been dealing the tedious lead in the fight against Covid-19 just for the welfare of the people.
Gov. Art Yap, the brain behind the milk-feeding program of Bohol, considers the award as humbling while it relieved him from the heavy load of dealing the Covid challenges, staying up to the wee hours just for the people- -many remain unappreciative of the sacrifices.
Yap pointed out that the program is designed to address malnutrition and stunting of children for their full development.
“Our generation has survived many challenges. The challenges in the future may be more difficult, and this is what we need to prepare the next generation for. This is the reason we need to ensure the full development of our children now,” according to the governor.
Yap launched the milk-feeding program of the provincial government in November last year.
Caught in the middle of the pandemic, it has been updated to suit the provincial government’s approach against Covid-19.
After the governor’s series of meetings with Provincial Veterinarian Stella Marie Lapiz, the program reeled off in the second week of May, starting with 5,000 children.
Impressed, the National Nutrition Council-Region 7 awarded Bohol for its “Covid-19 Sugpuon, Malnutrisyon Wagtangon” (Milk Feeding Program) as one of the Best Practices for Covid-19 Response for 2020.
The province received the award during the 2020 Virtual Grand Nutrition Awards on August 7.
The governor emphasized that malnutrition is even just one aspect of the problem, because stunting of children must also be addressed.
In line with this, the governor gives attention to the first 1,000 days of the child.
He explained that “if you miss the first 1,000-day window, no matter how good the professors are, even if you give one computer each and one teacher each, the child will have difficulty absorbing the lesson”.
On this, Yap tapped the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian for the implementation of the provincial government’s program for the first 1,000 days for all pregnant women and lactating mothers.
This involves the breast-feeding program which is related to food and agriculture.
The governor’s program is aimed at capacitating pregnant women and lactating mothers to eat right.
Gov. Art pointed out that “the amount of money that we are investing in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life will pay back later on when they find better jobs 20 years from now. It’s a long-term investment. If we miss that first 1,000-day window for pregnant women and lactating mothers, then we miss out of that in our future”.
The governor’s program also gives attention to the nutrition of children aged 3-5, noting that “Bohol has the highest malnutrition problem”. And, this involves about 25,000 kids as beneficiaries of the ongoing milk-feeding program.