‘Batang Matatag’ campaign launched to address Filipino children malnutrition

October 19, 2022 - 6:28 PM
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Panel discussion of Carol Ann Stewart, Batang Matatag Ambassador, Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, and Dr. Joselyn Eusebio, Specialist for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics during the "Batang Matatag" launch on October 13, 2022 (Interaksyon/Catalina Ricci Madarang)

A child rights organization and a pharmaceutical brand teamed up to launch a movement against child malnutrition in conflict-affected areas in the Philippines.

Through #BatangMatatag Movement, Save the Children Philippines and Erceflora Kiddie aim to provide clean and nutritious food to children from these places.

Save the Children Philippines is the Philippines’ chapter of an international organization that helps support children in need. This includes disaster response, poverty alleviation and education in different parts of the country.

Erceflora or Erceflora Kiddie, meanwhile, is a ready-to-drink vial that contains Bacillus clausii spores to relieve symptoms of gut imbalance, including diarrhea among children.

The product is manufactured by Sanofi.

These organizations are seeking to address the prevailing issue of child malnutrition in conflict-affected areas in the Philippines.

In a statement, it was cited that 2.9 million Filipinos from 0 to 10 years old experienced hunger.

“Prolonged hunger in children results in malnutrition, which then often leads to stunting or being too small for their age,” the organizations said.

“This issue is often linked to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene that often results in children developing various illnesses, diarrhea being one of the most prominent,” it added.

To put emphasis on how nutrition-deprived children in poor communities are, Save the Children showcased two meals comprising pieces of chips and a portion of rice during the launch.

The meals were placed atop one podium each.

A display of a meal in poor families (Interaksyon/Catalina Ricci Madarang)
A display of a meal in poor families (Interaksyon/Catalina Ricci Madarang)

The Batang Matatag movement aims to extend health, nutrition, sanitation, and education access to these children and their families.

Erceflora has also been releasing videos on its Facebook page to promote this initiative to social media users.

BARMM as the first target

Conflict-stricken communities of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) or Bangsamoro region will be the primary target for the movement.

This will be done through the “Life Changer for Children” initiative of Save the Children.

Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines, explained why they chose the region for this collaboration with Erceflora.

“BARMM is one of the most underserved areas in the country, but it also has a lot of potential to thrive and prosper with their rich culture and history; can create positive lasting change in the lives of children and communities in BARMM if we collaborate, support, and journey with them, especially children, in realizing their rights,” Muyot said.

As a child rights advocate, he expressed hope that this campaign could help children, particularly in conflict-stricken areas in BARMM, live healthily and have access to inclusive and quality education.

Diarrhea and the economy

Diarrhea is a common health condition that produces “loose, watery and possibly more-frequent bowel movements.”

Joselyn Eusebio, a Specialist for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, said that diarrhea among younger children affects the absorption of nutrients that are essential to their brain development.

If a child cannot absorb nutrients properly, Eusebio said that this will severely impact the child’s development when growing up.

“And so you end up with a child who’s developmentally delayed, have behavioral problems, can’t even go to school, to finish the course, and so I have mentioned, economically, will impact the country,” she said during the launch.

The event’s moderator, veteran broadcaster Karen Davila, then asked why many parents in the Philippines are not aware of how to treat their children with diarrhea.

Eusebio responded that they may not be educated.

“That is why education is also very important,” she said.

Carol Ann Stewart, the ambassador of Batang Matatag, said that the country’s “health and nutrition status” could be improved if children from all types of communities can get access to nutritious food.

“We hope that everyone realizes that they are part of a bigger movement, one that could potentially improve the country’s health and nutrition status,” Steward said.

“We hope this would be a stepping stone for Filipinos everywhere to continue spreading awareness and maintaining good practices in proper food preparation and sanitation,” she added.