PAN, CHE Hold 2013 Health Symposium

The Philippine Association of Nutrition (PAN) – Alpha Omega (AO) Chapter, in partnership with the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food of the College of Human Ecology (CHE), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) held the 2013 Food, Nutrition, and Human Health Symposium with the theme “Nutritionist-Dietician: A Total Health Performer” at the D.L. Umali Hall Los Baños on July 3.

Dean Erica B. Tabuac of the College of Food, Nutrition and Dietitics of the Laguna State Polytechnic University (LSPU) – Los Baños opened the series of talks with her lecture titled “ND’s…why consider a career in the academe?” It tackled the various reasons why Nutritionist-Dieticians (ND) should take on the role of teachers as a form of professional practice.

It was followed by a lecture from the Nutrition Executive Officer of Unilever Philippines Incorporated Myrick T. Principe. His lecture focused on how the NDs could serve the country, the bad effects of salt, and how Unilever Philippines continually strive to formulate products with less salt and more organic ingredients to help address the country’s nutrition problems.

A discussion on community nutrition was also conducted by Ms. Richel Torralba, a City Nutrition Action Officer (CNAO) in Olongapo City.  She discussed how community nutrition should cater to everyone and how it increases the value of people.

“Changing the lives of people… that’s the best reward I could get from being an ND,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Ma. Jenee C. Virtudazo, clinical dietitian and Associate Diabetes Educator of the Philippine College of Diabetes Education Foundation Inc., focused on the qualities of an effective clinical dietitian. She emphasized that one “should have a big heart for sick patients and empathize with them; a heart for the less-educated, even the foul smelling patients” as a requisite for the job.

The symposium was concluded by a discussion on the importance of nutritionists towards a productive country.  Amy Basa, a New York-based restaurateur and President of “Ang Sariling Atin” Culinary Heritage Institute, explained that the role of nutritionists in the country is a matter of life and death, and in performing their roles, they must equally strive to preserve the country’s culinary heritage.

“If you want to improve nutrition, you have to go back to your roots,” she explained.

Two open forums were also held during the course of the symposium, which provided an opportunity for the audience to ask the lecturers about their talks.  It was hosted by PAN resident members Ms. Elaine Wagan, Ms. Dara Harina, and Ms. Jhaycelle Calayag.

“[The symposium] inspired me to continue pursuing a career as a nutritionist-dietitian. It taught me that being a nutritionist is truly a mission… Because of the lectures, I was enlightened of what my true purpose is,” said Aileen Faye Villegas, BS Nutrition student ’10.

The conduct of the symposium was influenced by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was set to be achieved by year 2015.

“This year’s Nutrition Month theme aims to address MDG no. 1, which is to eradicate poverty and malnutrition… And this symposium we conducted is one step to give awareness, to disseminate information, and to share what nutritionists need to do to help achieve this goal,” said PAN AO current president, Mr. Eriel O. Javier.

The symposium was conducted in line with the month-long celebration of the Nutrition Month themed “Gutom at Malnutrisyon: Sama-sama Nating Wakasan.”  It served as a venue for BS Nutrition students, food and nutrition professionals, and other field practitioners to gain information about the ND profession.  It likewise established the importance of NDs in the Philippines in fighting malnutrition.  About 275 students from UPLB, Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba, and LSPU – Los Baños attended the symposium. (Paoloregel B. Samonte)

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