In July 2017, the Philippines became the sixth country where Holt has implemented our child nutrition program (CNP).
In tandem with our long-time local partner, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation, we provided trainings for caregivers and staff at two new government-run care centers. The trainings were filled with lots of learning, dancing — a beloved pastime and popular ice-breaker activity throughout the country — and meaningful hands-on opportunities.
After we left, the newly trained “champions” went right to work implementing the practices they learned to better serve the children in their care. And by the time our CNP trainers returned to complete a formal evaluation six months later, they observed considerable improvement in children’s health at both locations!
Before the training, many of the children in the care centers were malnourished. Within six months of implementing the CNP, we saw significant reductions in three serious indicators of malnutrition — stunting (too short for their age), underweight (too thin for their age), and anemia.
Overall, we saw the number of children who have no malnutrition issues grow by 12.3%. This means that these children are now both healthy and on an optimal growth trajectory. We also saw a reduction in the number of children who have at least one malnutrition-related health issue — from 62.31% to 50% of children in the sample size.
Not only were children healthier, the systems we put into place invigorated staff and supported positive behavior changes — encouraging caregivers, for example, to interact more with the kids during mealtimes or improve basic hygiene practices like handwashing. They reported our systems make it easier to provide care for the children they work with!
Word of the program’s success spread quickly. Within six months of the training, local government and the Department of Health and Social Welfare had caught wind of our program. They wanted to learn how more children could benefit from the program.
This led not only to a formal endorsement by the Philippines government for the Holt International Child Nutrition Program, but also to an amazing opportunity to form a direct partnership between the Department of Health, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Kaisahang Buhay Foundation (KBF) and Holt! Through this partnership, Holt and KBF will be able to reach more than 100 government-run care facilities and foster care systems with CNP’s life-changing resources and education.
This partnership is already having a significant impact on children in institutional care in the Philippines. Though our relationship, KBF will now serve as a connection to the Department of Health to ensure all children in these care facilities receive the vital medication and supplements they need, such as iron to treat anemia or vitamin A to prevent sickness, stunting, blindness and even death. This support from the Department of Health ensures that cost does not prohibit sites from providing the medical and nutritional care every child needs to grow and thrive.
Since the evaluation, CNP champions in the Philippines have already scaled the program to an additional site for at-risk women and children, and two additional foster care programs. In spring 2019, the CNP team will be back to train another site and start on the path to reach more government-run care centers and impact the lives of more orphaned and vulnerable children in the Philippines.
Emily Delacey, MS, RDN, LDN | Nutrition Program Manager