Indonesia commended for strong backing to scale up nutrition, reduce child malnutrition
Poor nutrition may cost nation up to 3 percent of GDP19 November | Jakarta – Indonesia’s emphatic commitment to the global Scaling Up Nutrition movement (SUN) and to addressing malnutrition among the children of Indonesia is expected to be the focus of an intervention on Tuesday at the National Conference on Food and Nutrition by the United Nations’ top representative on the issue, Dr. David Nabarro. SUN is a country-led movement with hundreds of organizations and entities working to increase the effectiveness of existing programs by supporting national priorities, aligning resources and fostering broad ownership and commitment to nutrition.
The Government of Indonesia has committed to reducing the prevalence of stunting among children aged under-five years by 5 percent and reducing the prevalence of underweight children to less than 15 percent. The UN in Indonesia has congratulated the Government for its commitment to making nutrition a top priority, and stands by its efforts to scale up nutrition as a way to accelerate the nation’s long-term development goals.
“Malnutrition is a multifactorial problem linked to poor diet and hygiene practices, childhood infections and inadequate care. It is also closely associated to poverty and deprivation and addressing this requires a coordinated multi-sectoral approach” said Dra. Nina Sarjunani, the Deputy Minister for Human Resources, Development and Culture at BAPPENAS, a member of the Global SUN Lead Group.
Angela Kearney, UNICEF’s Representative in Indonesia said that optimal nutrition during the 1000 days covering pregnancy, birth and early childhood is crucial for a healthy adult life and for ensuring optimal learning and achievement of full human potential. “Children not receiving adequate quality and quantity of food during this period may suffer from irreversible damage which will affect the productivity and development of the nation,” said Ms. Kearney. Increased investment in the prevention of stunting among Indonesia’s children will help address the toll that it takes in adult life.
“Effective interventions are well-documented,” Ms. Kearney added, citing “good maternal nutrition during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding for infants for the first six months followed by appropriate complementary feeding and continued breastfeeding until a child reached 2 years of age,” in addition to hygiene practices.
“Access to a nutritious and age-appropriate diet for children under 2 and for pregnant and lactating women -- especially in the most food-insecure areas of the country -- is of critical importance,” said Coco Ushiyama, Representative of the World Food Program (WFP) in Indonesia, stressing that such access can be guaranteed only by working with a wide range of public and private sector partners.. “Ensuring the right food at the right time especially during the critical window of opportunity of the first 1000 days of a child’s life is of paramount importance” Ms. Ushiyama said. Fortification of both staple foods and specialised food for children and women ensures that all nutrients are accessible and consumed by the general population -- and particularly the most vulnerable groups.
As of 2010, Indonesia was reported to be on track in achieving the first Millennium Development Goal of reducing the prevalence of underweight among children under-five years of age. However, the same survey demonstrated an alarmingly high rate of stunting with 36 per cent of children aged below five years stunted. This means that one out of every three children in this age group is shorter than the standard expected height for their age. In some provinces such as East Nusa Tenggara, 6 out of 10 children are stunted.
Stunting has an irreversible on a child’s growth and development. Poor nutrition has an economic cost, reducing Gross Domestic Product by an estimated 2 to 3 percent.
The UNICEF global report on Progress on Maternal and Child Nutrition states that Indonesia has the fifth highest number of stunted children in the world. An estimated 7.8 million children aged below five years in Indonesia are stunted.
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