They are not superheroes, but they are the ticket to well-nourished Filipinos in the barangays all over the country. They are the Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS).
BNS are the frontliners in providing basic health and nutrition services in the communities. Once again, almost 4,000 BNSs across the archipelago are set to meet in a biennial national conference hosted by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) of the Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with the LuzViMin BNS Federation, Inc.
The Barangay Nutrition Scholars Handbook, a guidebook for community nutrition advocates that will help them promote healthy practices and combat malnutrtion full force at the barangay level, was unveiled at the The 3rd National Conference of Barangay Nutrition Scholars for NCR and Southern Luzon at Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria on April 7. The handbook will help the community volunteers in their work in the country’s 40,000 barangays. The two-day general assembly of barangay-based health volunteers will be replicated in Vigan (April 15-16), Cebu (April 22-23) and General Santos City (April 28-29). Above, Ms. Jocelyn B. Lumaad, LuzViMin BNS Federation, Inc. President; Maria-Bernardita T. Flores, Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director IV; Jovita Raval, NNC Chief of the Nutrition Information and Education Division , Kate Demetrio, NNC Nutrition Information and Education Division Nutrition Officer II, and Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV unveil the Handbook.
The biennial 3rd National Conference of Barangay Nutrition Scholars will have four sub-conferences for the entire month of April. The first event gets off the ground at the Crowne Plaza Galleria Manila in Ortigas Avenue, Quezon City on 7 -8 April for the National Capital Region and Southern Luzon Regions (CALABARZON, MIMAROPA and Bicol). The Northern Luzon sub-conference (BNSs from Regions 1, 2 and 3 and Cordillera Administrative Region) will convene at the Vigan Convention Center in Vigan City on 15-16 April; the Visayas sub-conference (BNSs from Regions 6, 7 and 8) will gather at Waterfront Cebu City Hotel on 22-23 April; while the Mindanao cluster (BNSs from Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, CARAGA and ARMM) will have their conference at the KCC Convention and Events Center in General Santos City on 28-29 April.
This year’s theme – “BNS: Bigay Todo sa Nutrisyon at Serbisyo!” of the national conference underscores the role of BNSs in the delivery of nutrition and related services to improve the nutritional status of families in the barangays.
Moreover, it aims to continuously update and empower BNSs towards addressing malnutrition and ending hunger; update the BNSs on current nutrition and program developments; and, enhance their skills in improving their performance as BNS. The conference will also serve as a venue for BNSs to convene into a general assembly to discuss various concerns of the national federation.
Topics during the two-day conference include the Updated Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2015-2016; the results of the review of the BNS program which will give recommendations for the amendment of PD 1569 or “Strengthening the Barangay Nutrition Program by providing for a Barangay Nutrition Scholar in every barangay” legislated in 1978; the latest nutrition education strategies and tools to promote healthier diets such as the “Pinggang Pinoy”: Healthy Food Plate for Filipino Adults; and the “10 Kumainments”, the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF). A discussion on the plans for the celebration of this year’s Nutrition Month in July is also included to prepare the BNS for this nationwide annual nutrition campaign.
Highlights of the conference include the launching of the BNS Handbook which serves as a guide for BNSs in their performance as BNS. Likewise, the 2012 and 2013 National Outstanding BNSs will share their good practices that made them win the award to inspire other BNSs to work better and replicate the good practices in their communities.
Notable personalities such as Senators Bam Aquino and Cynthia Villar, and Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC Executive Director Maria-Bernardita Flores will be in the event to give inspirational messages as keynote speakers.
Currently, there are more than 40,000 BNS all over the country. The BNS program is mandated by Presidential Decree No. 1569 and a key strategy of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition. The BNS Program is administered by the National Nutrition Council and implemented by local government units.