Enhancing meals and diet safety within the Philippines | FAO

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In a rustic such because the Philippines, which is commonly hit by pure and human-induced disasters, the necessity for early warning methods is paramount. Entry to such data ensures that weak communities have the capability for evidence-based and well timed decision-making even earlier than a disaster arises. To focus on the hyperlink between agriculture and diet, one in all FAO’s key priorities is to strengthen and help data and early warning methods for meals and diet safety. Funded by the United Nations Worldwide Kids’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), FAO in cooperation with the Nationwide Diet Council (NNC) and the Barangay Diet Students (BNS) improved reliability of the prevailing digital BNS instrument to assist communities enhance meals and diet safety monitoring.

The Operation Timbang (OPT) Plus is an instance of an present data system on the barangay degree, native Filipino time period for a village, district or ward,

 that gives information on the standing of meals utilization in a group. Extra particularly, it supplies data on the extent of meals insecurity in a group and the prevalence of malnutrition amongst weak younger kids.

The OPT Plus is the annual weight-and-height-taking exercise performed by the Nationwide Diet Council (NNC) by means of its community of Barangay Diet Students (BNS). The BNSs are volunteer well being employees who serve on the frontline of diet service supply nationwide. Because the Nineteen Seventies, information from this annual exercise has been collected from every barangay, often inside the first quarter of the 12 months, and  aggregated on the municipal, provincial and regional ranges. Upon assortment on the barangay and municipal ranges, information from the OPT Plus is transmitted instantly to native chief executives and diet councils in order that it may be used for planning and response.

Knowledge assortment technique
A key step in information assortment for OPT Plus is the willpower of every baby’s age in months, calculated manually by the BNS from the kid’s birthdate and the date of the go to. After weight and top measurements are taken, the dietary standing can be decided manually – one baby at a time – utilizing reference tables primarily based on the World Well being Group’s Little one Development Requirements. Info from every baby is then recorded on commonplace paper varieties.

Given the big variety of kids who’re included within the survey, the method is tedious, time consuming and vulnerable to computational errors. Consequently, there have been criticisms on the general high quality of malnutrition prevalence charges derived from the OPT Plus.

In 2010, the Nationwide Diet Council developed a prototype of an Excel-based digital instrument, often called the ‘BNS Instrument’ that aimed to handle the difficulties in handbook calculation, recording and reporting. Nevertheless, the unique model had some limitations. Regardless of this, FAO acknowledged the digital instrument’s potential to enhance the effectivity of the OPT Plus course of.

Enhancing OPT Plus
By way of its UNICEF-funded Early Warning System for Meals and Diet Safety (EWS-FNS) venture within the provinces of Capiz and Aklan, FAO noticed a possibility to field-test the digital instrument. Over a interval of 18 months, the instrument was examined and useful suggestions elicited from native companions in addition to from the Nationwide Diet Council.

The digital instrument acquired a lot of new options that automated calculations, dietary classification and reporting capabilities. For instance, due to the instrument, it’s now simple to arrange segregated lists of kids who’re severely malnourished, thereby facilitating their observe up care.

Now dubbed because the e-OPT Plus instrument, the digital system has turn out to be an necessary element of FAO’s broader EWS-FNS venture in different areas of the Philippines. To boost information high quality, the instrument additionally consists of a lot of error-checking options, akin to checks for double-counts and out-of-range values as a result of information entry errors. Maybe essentially the most appreciated function amongst its present customers is the instrument’s means to consolidate OPT Plus information on the municipal and provincial ranges in a comparatively quick time period. This makes stories a lot simpler to arrange, and extra well timed and correct. It now additionally consists of pre-formatted and ready-to-print stories and codecs for various customers, designed to encourage higher use of knowledge on the native degree.

“Enhancing the reliability of the OPT can even enhance its use for planning and decision-making. Within the broader context, higher consciousness and appreciation for a lot of these information, particularly on the barangay degree, will enable native governments to make early forecasts, plan accordingly, and supply well timed interventions in order that communities can enhance their possibilities for higher meals and diet safety” mentioned FAO Meals and Diet Safety Monitoring Programs Specialist, Dr Celestino Habito, Jr.

Mainstreaming OPT Plus
To additional mainstream using the e-OPT plus instrument, FAO supplied technical help to NNC in drafting a reader pleasant handbook that comprises step-by-step steerage in utilizing the instrument. In latest months, increasingly municipalities have began to make use of the e-OPT Instrument. In Capiz and Aklan, for instance, provincial well being officers have began to disseminate the e-OPT instrument province-wide. FAO has additionally been offering trainings to native authorities workers in preparation for subsequent 12 months’s OPT Plus survey. Hand-in-hand with NNC, FAO envisions to ultimately see this instrument adopted nationwide.


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