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Indonesia sets targets to improve child nutrition

JAKARTA, 25 January, 2010 — On National Nutrition Day, high-level officials from the Government and UN convened to take more serious actions toward controlling malnutrition among children in Indonesia.

In the National Mid-term Development Plan signed last week by the President, the Government has committed to reduce stunting prevalence among under-five children, an indicator of chronic malnutrition from 37 per cent in 2007 to 32 per cent in 2014. This commitment was reiterated by top government officials from Health, Agriculture, Education, Industry, Home Affairs, and the Coordinating Body for Social Welfare together with the key UN agencies during the National Nutrition Day celebration co-hosted by UNICEF, Bappenas and the Indonesian Nutritionists’ Association (PERSAGI).

As of 2007 Indonesia had reportedly achieved the first Millennium Development Goal of reducing the prevalence of underweight among under-five children to 18 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health Basic Health Research Survey. However, the same survey demonstrated an alarmingly high rate of stunting with 37 per cent of children under five years old suffering from stunting. This means that one out of every three children in this age group is shorter than the standard height for their age. In some provinces such as East Nusa Tenggara the stunting rate rises to 47 per cent, which means that nearly every second child in this province is stunted.

“The Government recognizes that overcoming malnutrition among children is critical to advancing Indonesia as a country. Without good nutrition, the quality of our human resources is compromised. Hence, we have included important targets and actions for nutrition, including the reduction of stunting, in the National Mid-term Development Plan 2010-2014, and achievement of these goals requires strong commitment and collaboration across all sectors”, said Nina Sardjunani, Deputy Minister for Human Resources, Development and Culture, Bappenas.

Poor nutrition has an economic cost, reducing Gross Domestic Product by between 3-4 per cent – or 62 trillion rupiah per year in Indonesia (GDP 2008: 2.082 trillion rupiah).

The UN body for children UNICEF also used the occasion to launch the global report on Progress on Maternal and Child Nutrition at the same venue. In this report, Indonesia is highlighted as the fifth country in the world with the largest number of stunted children. An estimated 7.8 million children under-five in Indonesia is shorter than the standard height for their age.

“The solutions to stunting are well known and documented. If we can ensure that every child is exclusively breastfed for the first six months and then given appropriate complementary feeding and continued breastfeeding until 2 years, we will significantly reduce stunting by around 15 per cent and also save almost 20 per cent of deaths that occur among under-five children,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Indonesia Representative.

For more information contact: Regi Wirawan, UNICEF Communication Officer, rwirawan@unicef.org +6281779900712, Lely Djuhari, UNICEF Communication Specialist, HP 0811 802 338, email: ldjuhari@unicef.org

 

 
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