We are Katilingban

Image credit: Ernest Guevarra

katilingban - [ka-ti-ling-ban]: (n.) A Cebuano word meaning 1) a group or a community of people; 2) society, organisation or club.

It is at times of extreme social struggle and difficulty that we are reminded of the primacy of the collective and the value of working towards the common good. The current global health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic along with the social upheaval caused by the continuing and persistent racial injustice in the United States recently sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer and which has grown into a worldwide Black Lives Matter movement are the signs of the times. And these are the times when the power of collective action towards the common good is even more crucial.

It is against this backdrop that I, together with three other colleagues, have founded Katilingban, a collective of multi-disciplinary experts and practitioners in public health and nutrition. Though coming from different nationalities and diverse backgrounds and experiences, one of our main commonalities is our community-based orientation - from a doctor who ran a community-based mental health programme for civil war-affected children and youth in the Philippines, to a public health practitioner who studies and works with communities to understand their context to inform health and nutrition programming, to a community health and nutrition expert who has performed multiple coverage assessments and evaluations of community-based nutrition programmes in the past decade illustrating how the community aspect of these programmes has mostly been poorly done, and to a nutrition data expert who has implemented numerous nutrition surveys to aid in the design and planning of nutrition programmes advocating for more community participation in programme design and planning. And it is this community-based orientation that inspired us to form our own collective, to form Katilingban.

For the remainder of 2020, we would like to once again emphasise the importance of coverage of health and nutrition programming more so in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disrupted health and nutrition in more ways than just the infection itself. The global focus on COVID-19 has potentially further widened disparities in other health and nutrition outcomes particularly in low and middle income countries through a variety of mechanisms. We would like to collaborate with other organisations and researchers who are keen on assessing the impact of the pandemic on various aspects of health and nutrition in low and middle income countries. And given the limitations posed by the pandemic, we would like to explore the use of relatively new or less utilised modalities of primary data collection and to test and utilise other analytical techniques on already existing secondary data and routine programme data taht would allow us to still examine and understand the on-going health and nutrition situation other than COVID-19.

Interested in collaborating? Contact us.