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What made Muntinlupa’s Alicia Tanabe a national nutrition champ?

BNS Alice during her thank you speech at the NNAC 2023 (Photo courtesy of NNC)

BNS Alice Tanabe receives her NOBNS award (Photo courtesy of Ruffy Biazon Facebook page)

A barangay nutrition scholar (BNS) is a community health worker who is responsible for promoting nutrition and health in their barangay, or village. 

BNSs are usually women who have been trained in basic nutrition and health principles, and they work closely with families and individuals in their community to provide nutrition education, counseling, and support.

Alicia "Alice” Tanabe is a BNS in Barangay Alabang in Muntinlupa City who was recently  awarded  as the National Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar (NOBNS). 

At 59, Tanabe still owns a vibrant personality and genuine enthusiasm, continuously committing herself to public service. Her primary focus is to improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable individuals in her barangay.

BNSs play a vital role in improving the nutritional status of communities. They work to ensure that families have access to nutritious food, that children are properly immunized, and that pregnant women receive adequate prenatal care. BNSs also provide support to families with special nutritional needs, such as those with children with disabilities or those who are living in poverty.

The work of BNSs has been shown to have a significant impact on the nutritional status of communities in the Philippines. Studies have shown that BNSs can help to reduce malnutrition, improve child growth, and increase the use of health services. BNSs are an essential part of the Philippine health care system, and they play a vital role in promoting nutrition and health in communities throughout the country.

What makes Alice stand out?

1. Nutrition-specific programs
Tanabe’s noteworthy nutrition-related initiatives include the “EaTiNg Program”, nutripack distribution, and targeted bench lectures. The EaTiNg program is a 120-day feeding project for malnourished children and pregnant/lactating mothers in Barangay Alabang. This program demonstrates the strong support of the Barangay Nutrition Committee (BNC).

2. Nutrition-sensitive initiatives
Tanabe’s nutrition program is both practical and comprehensive. In addition to the targeted nutrition programs, she has established a nutrition-sensitive initiative: an urban gardening program in one of the puroks in Barangay Alabang. This program not only operates as a community garden, but it also provides food for daycare children. The preparation is a collaborative effort involving volunteer workers and daycare parents.

3. Nutrition education and promotion
She actively conducts house-to-house visits, educating parents on preparing nutritious meals, particularly for malnourished children. She promotes a healthy lifestyle through lecturing and counseling pregnant and lactating mothers on the importance of proper nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child's life. Working with Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), she ensures that pregnant mothers who skip prenatal check-ups get referred to the health center.

She also enrolls nutritionally at-risk pregnant and lactating mothers in a dietary supplementation program, which includes a 90-day dry food ration and full iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements. Her bench lectures highlight her competence in nutrition education, reaching out to people of all ages and genders, including senior citizens and fathers, and demonstrating a complete and inclusive approach to raising nutrition awareness.

4. Income-generating project
She took the initiative in creating an income-generating project for the BNC. Engaging mother volunteers, she organized the collection and selling of used plastic bottles, carton boxes, newspapers, and other recyclable materials.

The money raised through this effort will provide snacks to participants in various nutrition education initiatives around the barangay. Furthermore, profits help to pay transportation costs for women who actively participate in nutrition-related programs organized by the city.

BNS Alice in action (photo courtesy of NNC-NCR)
BNS Alice in action (photo courtesy of NNC-NCR)

With strong support from the Muntinlupa City Nutrition Committee, Alice is leading the nutrition effort in Barangay Alabang. She is an example model, exhibiting the qualities that a BNS must possess to improve community nutrition.

Empowering the barangay

The City of Muntinlupa is an outstanding symbol of nutrition excellence, advocating strong nutrition programs down to the barangay level. This commitment extends to supporting and empowering BNS, who are important in promoting community well-being.

Muntinlupa City receives CROWN award (Photo courtesy of Ruffy Biazon Facebook page)

Muntinlupa's dedication to nutrition is underscored by its recent recognition at the 2023 NNAC with the prestigious Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN) award. Going beyond citywide initiatives, it is crucial to recognize the substantial impact of a BNS’ efforts. Devoted individuals, such as Ate Alice in Barangay Alabang, showcase how grassroots nutrition programs are pivotal in the city's overall nutritional achievements. Their unwavering efforts address immediate nutritional needs and lay the groundwork for lasting community health.

Recognizing and appreciating BNS accomplishments at the barangay level is critical in collectively influencing the city's nutritional status. Muntinlupa City’s support for these small yet important efforts demonstrates that significant change frequently begins at the barangay level, and every attempt to improve nutrition is a step towards a healthier and more resilient city. (GLDG/PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

Information Officer II


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