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The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday cited the need to set up community kitchens that would serve food that would meet the nutritional needs of Marawi evacuees.

In a press briefing held at the department’s Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila, DOH spokesperson, Dr. Eric Tayag, said the lack of proper nutrition among the evacuees could weaken their immune system and affect their ability to fight diseases.

“Kaya kami ay nananawagan sa ating mga kababayan, baka gusto ninyong tulungan kami na maglagay ng kitchens, para maiba naman po yung kinakain nila, sapagkat di po biro na parating noodles, sardinas o ano pa mang delata ang kinakain nila palagi (We are calling on our fellowmen to help us set up kitchens so that we could offer the evacuees a more varied diet. They cannot eat noodles, sardines or whatever canned goods there are all the time),” said Tayag.

He explained that while ready-to eat-food, such as instant noodles, could tide them over for a while, these could hardly meet their nutritional requirements.

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“Kaya ngayon, naghahanap kami ng paraan para magawa po yon (That is why right now, we are looking for ways to do that),” Tayag said, noting that it is really heartbreaking to see the state of nutrition of the evacuees as they wait for the clashes in Marawi City to end so they could return and get on with their lives.

Meanwhile, National Nutrition Council (NNC) executive director, Azucena Dayanghirang, said that they have been promoting breastfeeding in the evacuation centers.

“Breastmilk is still best for babies,” Dayanghirang said, noting that they have been adding vegetables to the instant noodles, sardines and other canned goods eaten by the evacuees.

To date, a total of 4,268 families or 23,619 persons, are staying in 87 evacuation centers outside Marawi City, where government forces have been flushing out members of the terrorist Maute Group since late May.

Some 85,371 families or 386,931 persons are staying with relatives or friends. (LSJ/PNA)

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