By RAMON JASON M. JAVIER, MD
Program Director, MUCHSEP, and Director, CESAU

The UERMMMCI COMMUNITY EXTENSION AND Social Action Unit (CESAU) launched "Nutri-Chika: Usapan Para sa at Tungkol sa Nutrisyon" in July 2010 as a partner program to the feeding program for malnourished children of Area 38 Kapiligan in Brgy. Doña Imelda, where UERM belongs.

Nutri-Chika was the culmination of a series of soup kitchen sessions conducted from October 2009 to February 2010, which initially was designed to help families whose homes were submerged and destroyed by tropical storm Ondoy.

Nutri-Chika was conducted in partnership with the Multi-Disciplinary Urban Community Health Services Extension Program (MUCHSEP) of the College of Medicine. A total of 35 children, aged 2 to 6 years, were recruited to participate in the feeding session. However, at the end of the six-month programonly 23 completed the course. The menus served throughout the feeding sessions were designed to ensure caloric build-up among the identified malnourished children who were enrolled in the program. The 16-cycle food menu was prepared by Ms. Gemma De Leon, RND, Head of the Dietary Section of the UERM Memorial Hospital. The menu was also patterned after the recommendations of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

The Nutri-Chika feeding program's primary objective was to support the sustainability of the nutritional improvement of the children via regular feeding sessions and through the improvement of their mothers' knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding proper nutrition.

The feeding sessions were divided into two phases. The intensive phase was carried out for two months, providing one complete meal per day to each child, four times a week. The maintenance phase consisted of one complete meal per day, three times a week and ran for a total of four months. throughout the feeding sessions, milk supplementation was provided.

Nutri-Chika's medium was a series of innovative Mothers' CLasses given every saturday morning over a period of six weeks. Instead of the usual lecture-type of classes, cases were given as a jump-off point for the focus-group discussions among the mothers and the facilitator, and discussions revolved primarily around improving the mothers' present knowledge base and correcting misperceptions.

Topics for the Mothers' classes included (1) identification of nutritious food and their appropriate alternatives, (2) proper food handling and preparation, (4) proper food storage, (4) food-related illnesses, (5) monitoring the growth and nutritional status of children, and (6) busting food myths.

A baseline survey of the mothers'present knowledge, attitudes and practices was taken before the implementation of the classes. Pre-tests and post-tests were given during each class, and a final survey of their knowledge, attitudes and practices was done at the end of the program to monitor for changes. These mothers were also in charge of marketing and preparing the food viands served during the feeding program, and this activity was used as a measure of the actual practice of what they knew and what they were taught.

Compilation of the test results showed an increase in the mothers' scores on their knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding nutrition from the baseline. Aside from the Mothers' Classes, this improvement is also attributed to the fact that most of the participants had a good grasp of good nutritional practices, and they have been recipients of various, past health-related lectures given in the community. The program initially enrolled 18 mothers, but only 15 of them finished the Mothers' classes.

The six Mothers' Classes were facilitated by members of the (1) Dietary Section of the UERM Memorial Hospital's Dietary Department, headed by Ms. Gemma De Leon; (2) Mrs. Elvira Lim and her team of students of the College of Nursing; (3) Dr. Lana Jomi Alcon of the Department of Physiology; (4) Dr. Marianbelle Tablante of the Department of Pediatrics; and (5) Drs. Franciosa Gavino, Ramon Jason Javier and Georgina Paredes of the Department of Preventive and Community Medicine.

Nutri-Chika was made possible through the generosity and efforts of various faculty members of the College of Medicine (specifically from the Departments of Biochemistry , Physiology and Pathology) and Graduate School, as well as members of the medical alumni in the United States.

 

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