Inspire action: U4HK continues the fight against hunger and malnutrition
MANILA, Philippines – If children don't have enough food to eat every day, can they stay healthy enough to reach their full potential?
Malnutrition and hunger are real issues that affect a child's future. According to the latest Global Hunder Index, an estimated 7 million children in the Philippines suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.
These are children who don't have enough food to eat three times a day. Without proper nourishment, they cannot perform well in school. Without education, their chances for a better life are affected.
A forum held by United For Healthier Kids (UH4K) at the Green Sun last January 18 opened up the discussion on why malnutrition and hunger should be addressed.
UH4K aims to bring together private and pubic groups to continue to raise awareness about malnutrition, and to provide a platform through which individuals and organizations can volunteer, donate to organizations, or share more information about malnutrition in the Philippines.
The forum, organized in partnership with Nestlé Philippines, brought together key speakers who are fighting for the same cause.
In his opening talk, Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Jacques Reber stressed the importance of collaborating with different sectors in order to combat malnutrition and hunger.
“We need to harness the energy and ideas of young people who have demonstrated their will and capacity to shape the Philippines into a country whose people are able to lead prosperous and healthy lives,” he said.
Senator Grace Poe also gave a keynote speech that introduced efforts to pass bills to help children, especially public school students, get access food and education.
“A generation of Filipino children are already hindered from reaching their full potential if they are hungry and deprived of the nutrition they need to learn in school and stay active,” she says.
U4HK: The fight against hunger and malnutrition
Strong partnerships are key to the success of U4HK.
“We said the problem is bigger than us, so the solution has to be bigger than us,” said Paolo Mercado, Nestlé Philippines' Senior Vice President for Communication, Marketing, and Innovation. “Our first challenge was to step back and let it become a coalition."
Since it began in 2014, the program has grown in many ways. In addition to getting more partner groups, U4HK is also working on ways to make its platform, www.u4hk.ph, more accessible and more visible this year to everyone who would like to help.
U4HK also created a hunger heat map in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) to pinpoint locations in the Philippines where hunger is prevalent.
“That then creates the effect of information leading to empowered action. What we hope to do overtime in digital is of course provide the necessary visibility and web traffic to u4hk.ph,” Mercado said.
Hopefully in the near future, Paolo hopes that more people will not only be aware of the problem, but to care enough to do something about it.
“When we were doing the initial brainstorming and consumer research on this [program], we were surprised to find out that many of the consumers interviewed were not aware of the real state of malnutrition in the country. They would say, ‘Malnutrition? Mayaman ang Pilipinas hindi na problema yan.’ (Malnutrition? The Philippines has enough resources. It’s not a problem)," Mercado shared. "Through U4HK, we would love to see more awareness, more empathy, and more care.”
Inspire action for a better Philippines
The evening’s host, Gretchen Ho, moderated a discussion among a panel of experts in different fields who discussed how hunger can be addressed, why it should be an issue that everyone should start acting on and how the general public can its part.
The panel highlighted the serious impact of malnutrition among children. Aside from stunting their physical and mental growth, it could also lead to serious health issues in adulthood such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even obesity.
To close the forum, a video message from Her Excellency Leni Robredo, Vice-President Republic of the Philippines, was flashed on screen.
UH4K closed the forum by urging everyone to help fight malnutrition in his or her own simple way.
Visit www.u4hk.ph to learn how you can do your part to help address hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines. – Rappler.com