Town’s project TOKSAM lowers severe acute malnutrition cases

ADLAW NI SAM Miagao Municipal Health Office gathers the children who are classified as Severe Acute Malnourished to celebrate “Adlaw ni SAM”. SAM children enjoyed their day by dancing, eating and watching movies. (Photo by Rhea Tatiana Palmos)

By: Esther Abegale Cinco

MIAGAO, Iloilo – Project TOKSAM lowered the cases of children who are malnourished in Miagao by monitoring children in each barangay.

Municipal Nutrition Action Officer Rhea Palmos said TOKSAM is like tokhang, wherein they look for children who are Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM).

Tokhang is from the Visayan words toktok (knock) and hangyo (ask) which was employed by the PNP in asking suspected drug peddlers and users to surrender and undergo rehabilitation.

The rather bloody term has taken a more benign meaning in Miagao’s effort to curb malnutrition.

“So kung mag TOKSAM, gapangita kami sina mga SAM sa bilog nga municipality through the midwives. Ginapangita kung sino ang mga malnourished nga bata tapos gina enroll sa amon nga program,” Palmos said.

Municipal Nutrition Council Officer Leny Faina said that TOKSAM focuses on finding children from 0-59 months old who suffer from severe acute malnutrition to provide them therapeutic care.

Project TOKSAM has been successful in lowering cases of malnourished children in the past four years.

From 2015, around 500 SAM kids were recorded. Four years after, the number is down to 79 cases.

The Iloilo Provincial Health Office trained health staff of Miagao Municipal Health Office (MHO) in identifying SAM patients in the 119 barangays of the municipality.

“So gina kwaan namon na sila weight, height kag mid upper arm circumference para mahambal nga malnourished ang isa ka bata plus kung may presence sa face or legs nga gapanghabok,” Palmos added.

Palmos explained that twice a year, every January and August, Operation Timbang is conducted by Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS).

Children from 0-59 months old are required to join Operation Timbang to determine if they are malnourished or not.

“Barangay nutrition scholar ang contact person namon sa taga barangay. Kung may makita sila nga cases sang SAM sa ila barangay i-forward nila na sa ila midwife. Every barangay may midwife tapos ang midwife i-refer sa akon, i-validate ko kung SAM siya. Kay once nga SAM siya i-enroll ko na di dayon siya sa outpatient therapeutic care sang SAM,”

The Municipal Health Office then gives these children ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF), a treatment regimen given to SAM patients. The MHO will then observe their weights until they become normal.

Outpatients are children who can eat RUTF but if the child declines to eat and is malnourished, he will then be brought to Guimbal hospital.

Faina explained that Guimbal hospital will then provide milk to a SAM patient.

“Ready to use therapeutic food is peanut based ni siya, indi ni siya pwede sa mga bata nga may Glucose-6-phosphate deficiency. Ang isa ka pack good ni siya for one meal. Dapat ang rasyon nga 3 ka pack, maubos ya. Tapos bisan indi na siya magkaon rice or anything sa isa ka adlaw basta maubos ya ang 3 ka pack okay na ina, makasustinar na ina,” Palmos added.



The MHO added a new program last year called Adlaw ni SAM, where they celebrate a day with SAM patients.

“Ang adlaw ni SAM, nag-start kami last year. Gina-specify gid na para sa tanan nga patients, kung sa diin ginapamper namon sila. Naga-zumba session, gasaot, ga-film showing, ga-feeding, nutrition talks,” Palmos said.

Palmos added that the approach of SAM is very holistic. They try to change the behavior of parents towards nutrition and they give them nutrition reader.

“Ako, kag si maam Leny Faina, kami gid ang hands-on sa project nga ini. Ga-lobby kami kay mayor. Gapangayo kami staff kay kulang gid kami,” Palmos added.

Palmos hopes that even with the lack of manpower, they will still be able to achieve their goal and that is to end malnutrition in the municipality of Miagao.