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FNRI-DOST Launches Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos PDF Print E-mail
FNRI DIGEST

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) formally launched the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) in a whole-day symposium held at the Manila Midtown Hotel on June 13, 2000 with financial support of the Nestle Philippines. About 175 attended the symposium coming from 52 agencies and organizations. The NGF 2000 was developed by the inter-agency Technical Working Group (TWG) formed by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) and headed by FNRI. The TWG was composed of multidisciplinary group of experts from various groups concerned with public health and nutrition.

Mr. Gabriel F. Consulta, the Executive Vice-President and Marketing Director of Nestle Philippines Inc. welcomed the participants and guests, saying that Nestle is proud to be partners of the government and the industry in promoting good health and proper nutrition among Filipinos and strongly believes that the NGF 2000 is an excellent and significant starting point toward achieving good health. In his Opening Remarks, Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino, the Scientific Director, International Life Sciences Institute, Southeast Asia (ILSI-SEA) and Consultant, NGF 2000, congratulated the FNRI and the National Nutrition Council (NNC) in spearheading the formulation of the NGF 2000.

NGF - Backbone for Nutrition Education

Recalling that it has been three long years in the making, Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino cited the efforts of the TWG and the many useful comments from experts. The new set of guidelines could very well form the backbone for nutrition education in the country. He said that the NGF teaches us the fundamental nutrition practices towards better health - from what he refers to as basic nutrition law - Eat a Variety of Foods - to advise for infants and growing children; from recommendations to correct the dietary practices of Filipinos in general such as eating more vegetables and fruits, to a reminder on food safety; and finally to guidance to prevent chronic degenerative diseases to achieve a longer and happier life. Saying that the guidelines are not exhaustive because they are not meant to be, Dr. Florentino further said specific guidelines could be formulated for particular conditions such as guidelines for effective weaning infants, guidelines for pregnant and nursing women, guidelines for the prevention of cancer, guidelines for the prevention of heart diseases, and so on. He added that the guidelines in their primary form deserve maximum dissemination to the general public. From the messages of the Department of Agriculture Secretary Edgardo J. Angara and DOST Secretary Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr. read by Assistant Secretary Sigfredo R. Serrano and Undersecretary Rogelio Panlasigui, respectively, both secretaries believe that the NGF launching is another laudable accomplishment of the FNRI since it is geared toward addressing the most urgent need for knowledge and information in the health and nutrition community.

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Director Corazon VC. Barba,  Undersecretary Panlasigue, Director Elsa Bayani and Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino singing the National Anthem.

NGF - Path to Better Living and Life’s Most Efficient Insurance

           Secretary Angara said that "launching events are always occasions to look forward to - they promise new beginnings, of bigger and better things to happen; and manifest our continuing quest for knowledge as life is a never-ending learning process". He is convinced that the NGF is the path to better living and life’s most efficient insurance program, everyone’s protection from the wrath of malnutrition. He challenged all those present to make each Filipino, male or female, young old, know the NGF and live by the ten messages to good nutrition and health, that what we need now is for us to join hands and catch today’s exciting spirit to inspire more vigorous and sustained promotional and educational efforts onwards. He added that nutrition information decisions are needed so that our people are empowered to make informed decisions and nutritionally-healthy choices in life - choices about the foods they grow, purchase and eat. Knowledge is a prerequisite for good nutrition while good nutrition is a precondition for development - that productivity levels are much higher in healthy persons who meet their daily nutritional requirements. He added that knowledge gained through nutrition education yields extremely high returns, playing a major role in improving the individual’s own as well as the family’s nutritional status, thus contributing significantly to national development.

Redirect Efforts Towards Nutrition Information and Education

DOST Undersecretary Rogelio A. Panlasigue delivering the message of DOST Secretary Filemon A. Uriarte, Jr.

As chief steward of the DA, Secretary Angara committed to create a food secure Philippines as a complementary effort to the nutrition education program. In a meeting of the NNC Governing Board last November 1999, they reviewed the Council’s mandates and stressed the need for the Secretariat to redirect its efforts toward nutrition information and education. He cited two documents, namely the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 1999-2004 which stresses agricultural modernization Act (AFMA) or Republic Act 8435 enacted in 1997, a landmark piece of legislation which seeks to transform the agriculture and fisheries sectors into technology dependent rather than resource dependent industries. Two main concepts of the AFMA are: the adoption of the bottom-up planning and implementation of programs with the involvement of all stakeholders under the leadership of the LGUs; here food security should no longer be the sole responsibility of the national government but should also be a concern of the local government.

What is SAFDZs?

The Strategic Agriculture and Fisheries Development Zones (SAFDZs) or "food baskets" allows DA to identify and match the most productive agricultural areas with the most viable product and production system for optimum growth of rural economies. To prioritize and optimize its efforts to achieve food and nutritional security, Secretary Angara listed the following areas which will make some impact in agriculture: irrigation, making available quality seeds and other inputs to farmers, investing in post-harvest or production facilities; research and technology; credit; improving extension services; investing in information system to catapult agriculture sector into the information age. AFMA is the DA’s response to the challenge of bringing the good news of the NGF to every Filipino; when desired foods are made available, this could lead to improvement in consumption patterns.

Use Appropriate Communication Technologies to Change Behavior and Practices

Secretary Uriarte similarly noted that the development of the NGF is one important tool in solving malnutrition. However, he said transmitting scientific information to influence the behavior and dietary practices of the people is not an easy job. He challenged each one to think of practical strategies to bring these messages to our target consumers - the malnourished and the vulnerable, that appropriate communication techniques are to be used in order to bring about changes in behavior and practices. Understanding the factors that constrain or prevent people from following desirable dietary practices and findings practical and acceptable solutions that overcome these resistance points are critical to the effective implementation of the NGF. The success in imparting the information to the caregiver/community depends on how committed the nutritionists, educators, and communicators work. Implementing agencies, our partners in the private sectors, and political support are most needed to foster sustainability of this endeavor.

Mrs. Celeste C. Tanchoco presenting the NGF 2000.
The presentation of the NGF 2000 was done by Mrs. Celeste C. Tanchoco, Scientist I of FNRI and Chairman of the TWG. In her paper, she explained how the NGF was crafted by the TWG from the five messages in 1990 to the current 10 messages. She described each message, the rationale and action plans on the messages as well as their intended users. See p. 13 for the new set of messages and p. 14 for the aims and rationale of each message.

What to do to promote the NGF....

A panel of discussion on "What can we do to promote the NGF 2000?" followed Mrs. Tanchoco’s presentation. The six panelists consisted of Hon. Susan Pineda-Mercado of the DOH, Ms. Elsa M. Bayani, Executive Director, NNC, Mayor Justina MB. Yu of San Isidro, Davao Oriental & National President, Rural Improvement Clubs of the Philippines, Mrs. Azucena B. Limbo, Executive Director, NFP, Mr. Renato R. Montemayor, President, Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers, and Ms. Chi-Chi

Panelists Mayor Yu of Davao Oriental and NNC Director Elsa Bayani emphasizing the use of the Assoc. of Lady Mayors to disseminate the NGF messages.

Fajardo-Robles, Media Specialist and Anchorperson PTV-4. They all committed to pursue things in their own areas of responsibility and offered suggestions and recommendations on how to further promote and disseminate the NGF. First, they will endorse the NGF especially to a communications group who could transfer it into bitable pieces. Second, the NGF will be translated into some language for use by various groups. Thirdly, they commit to practice what they preach or "walk the talk" and to use existing networks for advertising and disseminating the information, e.g. the use of the hospitals, the National Association of Lady Mayors, the National League of Municipalities, the PIA network composed of the KBP, the Philppine Press Institute (PPI) and other media networks. They also commit to develop NGF collateral materials such as fans, posters, flipcharts, handbooks, billboards, radio and TV plugs, calendars, etc. Next they will participate in the Nutrition Month celebration, produce public service announcements (PSA) with carefully selected endorsers; utilize existing radio-TV-cable programs and cinema as avenues to disseminate NGF.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Corazon VC. Barba, FNRI Director, pointed out how difficult it is to develop the NGF because of the many ideas and the many comments received citing as examples the use of the word "edible" for oil, the change of paradigm from the curative and rehabilitate to preventive but more important to promotive. She’s glad that the NNC Governing Board Resolution # 1 Series 2000 adopted the 10 messages of the NGF as the official core of messages to be promoted through the nutrition education program. She likewise committed to participate in the nationwide effort to promote NGF among the employees, the clientele served, other groups FNRI has networked with. She thanked not only those involved in the development of the NGF and the handbook but also other government and private agencies, food industries which participated in the symposium including the Exhibit Committee who came up with the Dietary Guidelines in Asia and the Pacific.

 
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