Naga to set up human milk banks in malls

By JASON B. NEOLA

The Naga City government is going futuristic in its breastfeeding program by planning to set up human milk banks and breastfeeding centers in shopping malls, hospitals, and barangays.

The proposed project, which is seen to start this year is only one of the many approaches presented by the City Population and Nutrition Office (CPNO) to the United Nations Children’s Education Fund-Spanish government Millennium Development Achievement Goals Fund (MDG-F) to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in reducing incidence of malnutrition and child mortality rate.

Employers and company owners shall be encouraged to partner with the program wherein they will put up their own human milk banks and breastfeeding centers.

The establishment of human milk banks, including other related plans and projects by the CPNO, has been approved and given corresponding financial support by the international agency.

The MDG-F was established by the Spanish government through its development agency – the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) – to step up meeting the challenges of the Millennium Development Goals.

At least P1.6 million was committed for this year by the MDG-F to ensure sustainability of interventions in reducing cases of malnutrition among 0-5 year-old children by complementing government’s effort to refocus on children 0-24 months of age with improved breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices.

Mayor John G. Bongat said this would mean that for the next three years the city’s multi-pronged approaches for an effective breastfeeding and nutrition program will be financed by the MDG-F.

MDG-F 2030 is the centerpiece program of the United Nations which aims to achieve food security and proper nutrition among Filipino children.

Formal launching of the MDG-F 2030 programs in the city is scheduled on Oct. 5 this year.

Based on the agreement, each year until 2013 the city government will be given financial grants on condition that the targets contained in the agenda will successfully be met.

MDG 1 aims to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by at least half before 2015 while MDG 4 eyes to reduce incidence of child mortality rate.

This city’s population and nutrition office has been pursuing its infant and young child feeding practices even before the presentation of the United Nations’ MDG-F 2030.

CPNO Head Teresita A. Del Castillo said her office will request the Sangguniang Panlungsod to come up with ordinances and resolutions necessary for the establishment of human milk banks in the city.

Also contained in the CPNO’s approved agenda for 2010-2013 implementation: Purchase of infant weighing scales for the city’s 27 barangays; tap other offices like the City Agriculture, Metro PESO and NGOs for food security and capital income for families with malnourished children; and maintenance of vegetable gardens for breastfeeding community and free medical check ups/vitamins for undernourished children/pregnant mothers.

Nutrition Officer I Raquel Buere said distribution of complementary foods and supplemental feeding for public school children will be continuously undertaken by the nutrition office along with the trainings for midwives who are tasked to organize and conduct team building exercises among peer counselors.

Peer counselors are tasked to teach mothers in the barangays on how to practice proper breastfeeding.

The MDG-F 2030 also requires the city to organize at least 714 peer counselors. At present, CPNO has a little over 300 trained peer counselors.

Buere said breastfeeding topic will also be integrated in the pre-marriage counseling while breastfeeding fora will be conducted during Breastfeeding Week in the month of August. A breastfeeding lecture will likewise be tackled during a three-minute break in the radio program “An Naga Ngonian.”

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