Stunting in Indonesia: What is it and how to prevent it?Family
Indonesian citizens, especially those living in big cities, realize how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle. People have started exercising on a daily basis and consuming healthy food. We know the benefits of living healthily for our own health, but do you know how healthy lifestyle can affect your children too?
The combination of a balanced diet and regular exercise is as good for us as it is for our future children. A well-mixed consumption of calories, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals is the key to proper growth of our children ever since the pregnancy period. A well-balanced diet is one of the main factors to prevent stunting.
Stunting? What is stunting?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. The WHO Child Growth Standard, which classifies whether a child suffers from stunting, found that more than 160 million children under five were affected by stunting in 2012. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Health confirmed that 37.2% of children under five were categorized as stunted in 2015. This number requires the government’s attention because other Southeast Asian countries have a far lower percentage of stunting cases.
So, what is the government doing to solve it?
The Ministry of Health is currently promoting a national movement of nutrition improvement acceleration. One of its programs is to reduce stunting cases by 40% in 2025. This is important because stunting affects the life of the children on a permanent basis, such as, “poor cognition and educational performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and, when accompanied by excessive weight gain later in childhood, an increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adult life,” WHO researched.
There are three key factors to prevent stunting: 1) nutritious food, 2) regular exercise, and 3) environmental hygiene. The Ministry of Health stated that Nutritious food consumption is crucial during the first 1,000 days of children's lives. Breastfeeding is highly suggested during children's first 2 years because it contains sufficient macro and micro nutrient components needed by the babies such as lactose as calorie source, protein, fat, carnitine, vitamin A, D, E, K, zinc, and iron. For their next 24 months, well-balanced dietary must be maintained focusing on protein, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin A, B, C, and E.
Routine physical activities are also important; parents are encouraged to make their children used to it. During baby’s first two years, parents are suggested to teach their children small physical activities to reach the goals of baby physical development timeline such as reacting to sound, touch, sight, and other stimulus in the first month up until they can say their first word before they reach the age of two.
Besides those two factors, environmental hygiene is also important to keep your children healthy. With their weak immune system, children are prone to many kinds of infection and disease. Parents are responsible for keeping the environment around the house clean and hygienic while the government should provide decontaminated sanitation system as well as affordable and accessible health care.
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is currently supporting the Ministry of Health’s program to reduce the number of stunting cases in Indonesia with #SadarStunting. The role of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in spreading the knowledge about stunting is important because many Indonesian citizens still have no idea what the word even means, not to mention the negative effects of stunting. With this information, let us support the government by implementing healthy lifestyle in daily basis, both in our lives and our children’s.
This article is supported by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.