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Good Housekeeping
Pia Garcia, Contributor
September 21, 2011

Daphne Oseña-Paez Talks about Maguindanao's Malnutrition Problem + How You Can Help

The UNICEF Special Advocate for Children sheds light on the alarming conditions affecting children down south. By Pia Garcia
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acute_malnutrition_daphne_inside.jpgMost women are used to seeing the more glamorous side of Daphne Osena-Paez. She has hosted several lifestyle shows on television, she's been a brand ambassador for a popular beauty product, and she produces a line of furniture, linen, and jewelry. And on top of all this, Daphne is also a UNICEF Special Advocate for Children.

She is the first Filipina ever to be given this special responsibility and has since devoted much time and effort to backing programs that support maternal and child health, especially breastfeeding.

Her responsibilities with UNICEF allow her to travel the country and see how children and families are affected by their environment. During a visit to Cotabato City, she witnessed first-hand how living in an area of conflict can quickly rob children of their health.

It was here that she met Datu Ali, a baby suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). "He looks and feels like a newborn, but he's seven months old," she recounts.

"Back in Manila, I had been briefed on the situation of severely malnourished children in Central Mindanao, but reality doesn’t hit home until you see it," she is quoted in a report from UNICEF.

During her visit, Daphne was made aware of just how bad the malnutrition problem is in Central Mindanao, and she shares that it isn't just caused by the lack of food. "I've learned that malnutrition isn't just a case of too little food; environmental factors such as clean water and health services are important, as well as the knowledge and behavior of the mother," she says. Daphne then adds that the conflict in Mindanao only makes it harder to protect the health and interests of the children and families living in the area. She adds, "The conflict does not only damage lives of the children living here, but it prevents essential services [from] being delivered to them. That is a double hit, and a malnourished child may not have the resilience to survive it."

So what is there to know about malnutrition in Central Mindanao? How bad is it, and what can you do to help the children affected by it? Read on and learn what help you can extend to the children affected by SAM.

(All screencaps courtesy of unicefphilippines on YouTube unless otherwise noted)
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