DOH partners with International Care Ministries to save thousands of children from malnutrition

The Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the International Care Ministries (ICM), has delivered more than P30 million worth of life-saving food relief to 18,306 malnourished children around the country despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 community quarantine.

DOH’s decision to partner with ICM was crucial as the non-governmental organization’s (NGO’s) expertise and network of pastors and connections with hundreds of local government units helped in identifying malnourished children.

This made it easier for DOH to distribute 5,227 boxes of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF) to treat malnutrition.

Within a month, ICM was able to distribute 91% of the RUTF and 86% of the RUSF to 22 provinces, 127 municipalities, 23 cities, 244 individual barangays, 61 barangay clusters, and other partners.

Nearly 20,000 clinically malnourished children received more than a month of this special food, enough to bring most of these children back to normal weight.  In addition to the food distribution, ICM’s staff also conducted training for the regional healthcare workers on how to use the RUSF and RUTF.

Malnutrition among young children was already a problem before the pandemic, but now millions of more children are at risk.

Reports of hunger and malnutrition around the Philippines have been on the rise since the nationwide implementation of the COVID-19 community quarantine. Approximately 30 million people living in poverty are struggling with hunger. 

“Many agencies of the Philippine government have been acting heroically to help the poor,” ICM CEO David Sutherland said. “But in a country of more than 100 million people on more than 7,000 islands, gaps are inevitable. That is where ICM comes in.”

ICM is a faith-based NGO operating in the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan, since 1992. ICM’s built-in network of 10,000 partner pastors and hundreds of DOH-trained base staff was critical to the organization’s quick pivot from poverty alleviation to the more urgently-needed relief distribution. 

Ester, mother of 9-month-old Angela in Bohol, was one of the recipients of the food.

“When this quarantine was implemented, I really faced challenges like where to get food for my family and for Angela’s supply since she is malnourished,” she shared.

After a month on the RUTF, Ester observed positive changes in her daughter. “Angela is improving and recovering. She has gained weight, eats a lot, and she is starting to take small steps.”

Over the last decade, ICM’s four-month Transform training program has graduated 1.4 million ultra-poor Filipinos with livelihood skills, health training, values formation, and savings groups.

Before the virus took hold, ICM reported that its Transform program improved ultra-poor household income by 146%, reduced serious illness by 29%, and decreased chronic hunger by 19%.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine, ICM leverages its Rapid Emergency and Disaster Intervention (REDI) that connects 10,000 pastors in Palawan, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

This system enables ICM to deliver supplies to communities that need them the most.

So far, ICM has been able to distribute more than 14 million meals, over 100 million seeds, 500,000 bars of soap, and more than 300,000 booklets on COVID-19, reaching and helping over 3 million people. 

International Care Ministries (ICM) is a faith-based NGO with a mission to free the Filipino ultra-poor from the bondages of poverty. Operating since 1992, ICM has graduated over 1.4 million Filipino family members from its four-month anti-poverty training program called Transform.

ICM has 500 full-time staff (98% Filipino), primarily located in 12 bases in the Visayas and Mindanao. Field bases are supported by the national program office in Manila. For more information and to donate, visit

Delivery of the food packs to Bago City, Bacolod Health Nutrition Office 
ICM workers bringing in boxes of food packs to Regional Health Units
Pastor James, one of ICM’s partner pastors, facilitating distribution of the food packs in Dipolog.
Ready-to-use food from DOH being distributed in General Santos by ICM base staff. 
Ester with 9-month old Angela, with the rest of her children in Bohol.