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Maguindanao exec to address food fallacies to boost nutrition

HEALTH • 05:46 AM Sat Aug 1, 2015
John Unson
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu show to participants to Thursday’s provincial nutrition dialogue in Buluan town triplets Abdulmanan, Abdulwahab and Abdulmalik. (John Unson)

BULUAN, Maguindanao-- Centuries-old food fallacies hound the government’s health and nutrition programs in Maguindanao and other southern provinces.Officials, among them physician Tato Usman and Maguidanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu on Thursday acknowledged the need to involve local Islamic theologians to help educate superstitious folks on the importance of proper nutrition.Tato is a senior official of the health department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).While there are food and drinks that are haram” (forbidden) in Islam, such as pork, wine and other intoxicants, the religion espouses life preservation through good health practices such as eating of fruits and vegetables and drinking of milk and honey. There is, in fact, one chapter in the Qur’an, the Hannan, which tells of the health benefits of honey.Tato said Islamic theologians can help correct wrong notions on food by people in far-flung areas in the province.There are folks in Maguindanao that refuse to eat high protein legumes cooked with meat or certain marine fish species, fearing they could get afflicted with skin diseases.There are others too that believe that it is unhealthy for pregnant women and lactating mothers to eat green leafy vegetables cooked with cuts of chicken meat, or with either chunks of tuna, or skipjack, or mackerel, despite having good meat texture and palatability. These are the challenges we need to surmount. We need to enlist the help of preachers to educate our people on proper nutrition sans superstition,” Mangudadatu said.Superstition, including belief in amulets, is taboo in Islam.Mangudadatu and Usman were speakers in Thursday’s nutrition dialogue in Maguindanao’s capital, Buluan town, which marked the culmination of the observance of the national nutrition month in the province.The dialogue was organized by the office of Mangudadatu, the ARMM’s local government and health departments, the Maguindanao league of mayors and different civil society organizations.The event was graced by Indian national Praveen Agrawal, representative to the Philippines of the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP).The WFP is a major benefactor of nutrition and food security programs in Maguindanao.Agrawal said it is important for stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process to invest on nutrition and food security thrusts to hasten the attainment of peace and development in the country’s south. All governments for that matter need to invest in nutrition to ensure the welfare and development of children,” Agrawal said.Agrawal said peace and sustainable development in confict-stricken areas can easily be achieved if complemented with nutrition and health interventions.Mangudadatu introduced to the dialogue participants three-year-old malnourished triplets Abdulmanan, Abdulmalik and Abdulwahab Esmael from Datu Abdullah Sangki town southeast of Maguindanao.The provincial government intends to tap, as potential partners in local health and nutrition programs, the triplets, born February 15, 2011, and their parents, Muslimin and Hayla.Muslimin is a marginalized peasant relying only on propagation of short-term crops on a small parcel of land in Datu Abdullah Sangki as main source of income.Mangudadatu, during the dialogue, gave the Esmael family cash as additional capital for their farming activities and promised to give them a water buffalo next week.The governor said Muslimin’s productivity will improve if he would have a water buffalo he can use for plowing.Thursday’s nutrition dialogue in Buluan was also capped off with a youth caravan involving more than 3,000 students from across Maguindanao.The students were given free lectures on food production, maternal and child health and vocational schooling in makeshift booths of government agencies inside the municipal gymnasium in Buluan.

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