SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, personally attended the 2023 National Nutrition Awarding Ceremony, organized by the National Nutrition Council (NNC), at the Manila Hotel in Manila City on Monday, February 12.
The ceremony was also attended by Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino, Department of Health Secretary Teodoro “Ted” Herbosa, Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr., and National Nutrition Council Head Assistant Secretary Azucena Dayanghirang, among others.
The event celebrated the exceptional efforts of local government units (LGUs) and barangay nutrition scholars (BNSs) in advancing nutrition within their communities.
“Nutrition is the foundation upon which we build the future of our nation. Healthy citizens are more productive, can contribute more to the economy, and lead to fulfilling lives. Recognizing this, our efforts towards enhancing nutritional standards and practices are not just an investment in health, but in the prosperity and resilience of our nation as a whole,” Go said in his speech.
Go expressed his vision for a healthier country where citizens can access the resources they need to live a nutritious and healthy life. He praised the LGUs and BNSs for their pivotal role in achieving this vision, recognizing their hard work and dedication to improving the nutritional status of their communities.
“Malnutrition and all its forms continue to be a more persistent issue that requires our collective action. Let us renew our commitment to addressing hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition. This requires a concerted effort of all sectors of society including government, private sector, civil society, and communities,” he reminded.
During the event, Go gave away tokens of appreciation to all 600 attendees, which included 38 individual awardees.
Moreover, Go mentioned his filed Senate Bill No. 2399, which seeks to declare April 7 as Barangay Health and Nutrition Workers (BHNW) Day, recognizing the vital contributions of BHNWs in community primary healthcare delivery.
Furthermore, Go as Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, highlighted that the Senate has approved an increase of over P180 million in the budget allocated to the NNC. This augmentation aims to enhance the NNC’s nationwide capacity to address nutritional needs especially of poor Filipinos.
“Kung ano pong maitutulong ko bilang chairman ng Committee on Health, tutulong po ako sa abot ng aking makakaya at bukas po ang aking opisina sa inyo. Nakahanda po akong makinig sa inyo kung papaano pa natin mapa-improve ang ating nutrition programs,” Go affirmed.
Meanwhile, Go also shared that during the Duterte administration, numerous initiatives were undertaken, and laws were enacted to combat malnutrition. Among these efforts is the School-Based Feeding Program, which stood out for providing nutritious meals to malnourished children in public schools.
The passage of Republic Act No. 11148, also referred to as the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, marked a pivotal advancement in enhancing maternal and child health, particularly during the critical early phases of life.
“Tatlo po ang aking naging prayoridad bilang inyong senador at chairman po ng Committee on Health simula noong 2019. At sa tulong po ni Sec. Ted Herbosa na napakasipag, isa sa mga nakita kong masipag na secretary, patuloy nating isinusulong ang Malasakit Center, Super Health Center, at itong Specialty Center,” Go further shared.
The Senator also highlighted that the Malasakit Centers, which marked its 6th Anniversary that day, play a critical role in assisting the poorest and most vulnerable citizens with their hospital bills including the purchase of their needed medicines. This program, which is legislated under RA 11463 that Go principally sponsored and authored, embodies his commitment to leave no one behind in the healthcare system.
“Malaking tulong din po ang Malasakit Center to provide critical information on healthy behaviors and conduct health promotion activities in the hospitals. Dito po maaring pumasok ang ating mga nutritionist para magabayan ang mga pasyente sa tamang nutrisyon para maiwasan ang sakit,” Go said emphasizing the role of Malasakit Centers in promoting nutrition.
Go is also advocating for the construction of Super Health Centers across the country. These centers will be pivotal in providing comprehensive primary care services and bringing healthcare closer to the people especially in underserved areas. The establishment of these centers is a step towards ensuring that basic healthcare is accessible and affordable for all Filipinos.
“Sa pakikipagtulungan po with DOH, sila po ang mag-i-implement nito, ite-turn over po sa LGUs. At kami po bilang mambabatas ang nagsulong rin po nito sa Senado. Magkakaroon po ng mahigit 600 na Super Health Centers po sa buong Pilipinas,” Go shared.
“Diyan na po yung primary care under ng Universal Health Care, diyan na po yung Konsulta ng PhilHealth… Madi-decongest yung mga hospital, at mapromote ang early disease detection. Mga nutritionist, BNS kayo po ang kasama sa mamamahala rin diyan, pwede ninyong maalagaan ang mga bata d’yan para masiguro ang proper nutrition po,” he added.
Furthermore, recognizing the need for specialized care, Go is the principal sponsor and one of the authors of Republic Act 11959 or the Regional Specialty Centers Act. These facilities will focus on providing advance medical care for specific conditions, thereby enhancing the capacity to offer specialize treatment and cater to the complex health needs of the population.
“Yung mga Heart Center, cancer care, lung care itatayo na po sa mga existing DOH regional hospitals. Isinabatas na po natin, it’s a multiyear plan of the government para ilapit natin yung serbisyo medikal sa ating mga kababayan,” he cited.